The Portchester Players were at the Ashcroft Centre last week with the first of the local theatre Christmas offerings.
The Flint Street Nativity was conceived and written for television and the stage adaptation shows those roots; a televisual-style cut takes us swiftly to the following scene. This does not work so well on stage and oftentimes the action is hindered by the necessary process of getting cast on-and-off stage.
This is a small niggle and the first-night audience clearly had a ball.
The conceit of the piece is that adults play schoolchildren, putting on a school Christmas Nativity.
Peta Reading shines as the Virgin Mary, the appropriately holier-than-thou class know-all. She has sharp competition from Katie Winter, whose angel Gabriel, with ideas above her station, is both funny and tragic. Linda Mary Wise as Gabriel’s sidekick, though, has a real truthfulness about her characterisation.
Mark Harold gives a thundering performance as the special-needs donkey and Sean Fisher’s Innkeeper, struggling with the first pangs of love, found and lost, is broodingly funny.
Hats off to David Boyd as the Frankincense King – a boy with a lisp, struggling with his embarrassment and self-consciousness. This is Boyd’s stage debut and bodes well for his performing future. JAMES GEORGE