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The DIY Nativity (Cambridge, The Junction)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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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 festivities.

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 fight.

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.


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