“Can there be anything more iconic of life in a primary school than a nativity? It’s one of the highlights of the school year and no teacher should go through her career without staging one. They are full of learning curves, sprinkled with unpredictability, and bring tears, laughter and relief. If you’ve done a nativity then you’re a teacher for life.
Of course, things don’t have to be so traumatic, as you can always buy yourself a nativity off the shelf. And if you’re looking to stage one with a fresh angle and plenty of humour then you can’t go wrong with a new musical called ‘Behind The Stable Door’ from Edgy Productions, written for 4-9 year olds. It will only set you back £29 for the physical product and £27 for the download so it’ll leave you plenty left in the bank.
The plot is a corker. It starts off with the animals being booted out of the stable by the innkeeper’s wife because there are people who need somewhere to stay for the night. The evicted animals are grumpy, baffled and inconvenienced, but get their heads together to work out what is happening and why the stable is off-limits. The cat and dog recall folks panicking because Bethlehem was going to be overrun with visitors needing places to stay, while the dozy donkey explains that Mary, his mistress, was visited at her house in Nazareth by a strange character delivering some news. This led to him taking her on a long journey.
The heavy-eyed sheep was awoken by happy voices singing, and was then taken by enthusiastic shepherds and brought to the stable. The shepherds were allowed inside, but she wasn’t. The three cranky camels get the hump as they tell how they carried heavy boxes and bundles on the impulse of their three so-called wise men who were following a star. To the camels, the other animals are as common as muck. Eventually, the stable door opens and reveals what is really happening as Mary invites the animals to join in the celebrations and welcome the new baby. When the animals see what all the excitement was about, everything becomes clear to them.
That’s the story in a nutshell, and when you buy the resource you get pretty much everything bar the actors – copyright and licensing advice, character list, scene-by-scene script with stage directions and the all-important music. The easily adaptable script is a joy with clear directions, great writing and foolproof signposts as to what track to play from the CD and when. As with all of Edgy Productions’ plays, the music, lyrics, songs, recording and arrangement share high production values and standards. You can listen to samples on the website to get a sense of how good they are. A shorter, simpler script can also be obtained free of charge.
Nativities can often go on a bit, and as sweet as children are, a 90-minute performance is just too much. Thank goodness then that this play is written for the 45 minutes mark. This is a high-quality production that will save you lots of precious time and effort. It’s traditional, but with a twist that separates it from countless others you may have seen. It certainly isn’t offensive or watered down, and it unwraps the birth of Jesus – but from the animal’s point of view. Throw open the stable doors and let everyone enjoy, I say. It’s a Christmas cracker.”
Many schools don’t do the nativity these days and instead opt for ‘winteral’- themed plays so that everyone can have a part. Well, there is no need to airbrush the nativity from your school calendar as this simple tale about celebrating the triumph of hope over adversity has more than enough room for everyone. Rewriting the Christmas story in a fun way without losing the key message is not an easy task, but the authors of this play have managed to do it well. This isn’t a nativity-lite musical that skims over any religious references but a well-written and humorous story that keeps the story alive.
Reviewed by: John Dabell