Almost anyone who grew up the UK will have memories, fond or otherwise, of the school Nativity play. Girls would fight over the sparkly angel outfits, boys would cause havoc and actual bodily harm with the shepherds' staffs and the fat kid with glasses who smelt of sour milk would have to play the donkey again. Costumes made from tea towels. Sets made from 65 per cent tin foil. Teachers panicking as they realise they still don't know what myrrh is and can't make an accurate prop for the unlucky third King who has to carry it.
An alternative to the traditional Nativity play in a cramped school hall that smells of over-cooked cabbage and kids' feet is The London Nativity, a welcome return of The Steam Industry's 2004 production in the Scoop, the amphitheatre space outside City Hall next to Tower Bridge. The Steam Industry are presenting this revival after their previous productions Cyclops!, Caucasian Chalk Circle and Oedipus.
This hour-long modern-dress reworking of a medieval Nativity play is suitable for all faiths as long as you're keen on promenade performance. The London Nativity may have discarded the tea towels and cotton wool costumes of traditional Nativity plays but adheres firmly to the feel of the original (as in "medieval") plays that were lively and engaging and quite literally pulled the audience into the story. Director Phil Wilmott uses puppetry, live music, comedy and drama to tell the story and as long as you wrap up warm and are prepared to be on your feet for the hour, it could restore the warm and fuzzy feelings you should be feeling at this time of year.
The London Nativity at The Scoop, Wednesday 20 to Saturday 23 December, 6.30pm each night, Sunday 24 December 2.30pm, entry is free. For more information go to the website here.