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Theatre Review: Nativity the Musical ***

Ashling Findlay-Carroll reviews a production that's 'isn't a work of art' but is 'perfect pre-Christmas fun'.

From the moment we enter the theatre the festive feel is set as you would expect, with glitter, twinkling lights and Xmas music. What unfolds throughout the next two-and-a-half hours doesn’t disappoint: half musical and half panto complete with bad jokes, risqué moments and audience participation.

True to the plot of the original film, it is a real celebration of the underdog. Simon Lipkin’s Mr Poppy drives the show with energy and charisma and is only upstaged by the adorable Casper the dog. Unfortunately his cadet member Jo Brand doesn’t give quite so polished a performance as she is stilted and wooden and at times seems like she’s searching for her lines. However, the joy created by the young cast members win us over from the start, and their attack and investment in the performance gives some of the adults a run for their money.

Across the cast the midlands accents are questionable at times (though as someone who grew up 20 minutes from Coventry where the show is set perhaps my ear is particularly sensitive) and the script has moments that run a little too close to the bone with gender stereotypes and potentially offensive references, but it is clear that as a show it has warmth at its heart so we let these slide.

The play within a play features everything you could ever want from a primary school nativity: a boyband, flying children and so much sparkle and shine we can forgive its imperfections. All this, complete with a poignant moment when cast and audience join together to overcome Mr Shakespeare’s sabotage, leads to an overall impact that is uplifting and energetic.

Whilst the production itself isn’t a work of art, it’s perfect pre-Christmas fun.

Nativity continuous its tour of the UK until the end of December 2018.

Tags: theatre

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