Ah, the Nativity. The story of the birth of Jesus Christ had been adapted so many times that I thought there was no way the story could have another spin. From the music video of “The Power of Love” to the loose depiction of the school play starring Martin Freeman, it seemed that everyone had covered the story over and over again.
However, in December, the Drama Society at the university held a performance that changed my outlook on the timeless story. The name of the performance? Dave’s Hectic Night. The concept? The Nativity but with a massive difference: Mary and Joseph aren’t the main characters of this story. The innkeeper is.
Don’t think this is just another retelling of the birth of Christ. With the show written by the society’s president, Fran Atkinson, the script has a sense of humour that isn’t just adopted lightly by any comedic writer. Atkinson interweaves university humour, British slapstick and relatable generational comedy into this spectacular Christmas performance. This results in a creation that doesn’t intimidate the audience with religion; the play places the audience into the story with characters they can see in themselves or past experiences.
When sitting down with Atkinson, she revealed that “My dad works at a church and every year they do a different take on the Nativity, and the Drama Society voted this in”. Having such a close link to the faith gives the play a personal touch; the writer has a connection with the play that not all playwrights would have.
The performance itself uses a lot with a little space; with just one desk, the Drama Society makes use it to tell the story of Dave, who is the Innkeeper that invites Mary and Joseph in to give birth to Jesus Christ. However, the parents of the King of Kings almost take a back seat, as other characters give Dave the most stressful night that any hotel manager has ever had (and yes, I’m counting M. Gustave from Hotel Budapest).
The society spent three months crafting these loveable characters that make the audience laugh and giving a brand new take on an iconic tale. Dan Henshaw, playing the comic relief, told me that “comedic timing is very important” which reflects heavily in this play. The cast does not skip a beat and had the audience laughing time after time; no joke failed and every character had their time in the spotlight.
The play hits all the right spots with humour – an entertaining watch that proves that the Drama Society is a force to be reckoned with. Honestly, I recommend that if the Drama Society advertises something you have to go and see it.