The tinsel and the artificial holly can
often obscure the actual story of Christmas. The DIY
Nativity, for all its deliberately ad hoc – not to say,
anarchic – framework, oddly manages to focus attention, even if
intermittently, on the story behind our modern shopping-focused, food and drink-obsessed
We expect (not to say demand) presents perhaps without
thinking where the tradition has come from. Not that Bryony Kimmings, Stuart
Bowden and Sam Halmarack offer us any sort of faith-based drama.
They don't. The Nativity story itself burbles along as one of the
seasonal rituals in which three flatmates indulge.
Of course neither the presents which
they eventually exchange nor the festive meal itself (serving turkey
to a self-proclaimed bird lover is probably not the brightest of
ideas) are as successful as they might have been.
Kimmings is the mistress of all these
ceremonies, happily involving audience members in everything from a
massive (off-stage) shopping trip, though playing musical instruments
(from the orthodox to the distinctly unusual) to a (literal) bun
David Curtis Ring has devised a set
which echoes the overall daftness of the piece – those vertical
beds which now seem ubiquitous for this sort of carry-on, an
out-of-kilter Christmas tree, a positive mountain of wrapped packages
to be climbed on, dismembered and even worn.
Bowden and Halmarack back her up
manfully. A predominantly teenage audience took it all in good part,
loved the bun fight and applauded the musical numbers. Kimmings'
shows tend to be self-indulgent and this one is no exception. But in
a slightly peculiar way, it does work. I'm not sure though what a
much-younger age group would make of it, even with the flexibility which has obviously been built-in.