The Maskers' Studio Theatre
2 - 7 December 2019

Performances at 7:30pm.

Sold Out

This amateur production of “The Flint Street Nativity” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD a Concord Theatricals Company.

Please note this play contains some strong language. Suitable for 14 years and older.


The Reviews


4 Dec 2019

From the author of Calendar Girls comes The Masker’s latest offering, set around the trials and tribulations faced by many primary school teachers: the staging of the annual Nativity play. Mrs Horrocks’ class of seven-year olds is about to perform their version at Flint Street Infant School for the proud mums and dads, social workers, relatives, ‘friends’ and Aunty, as the revelations of the children’s mainly dysfunctional lives are slowly revealed via alternative lyric sung carols observations. The children are played by adults, who later play their parents.

Squabbles arise when Gabriel wants to play Mary, the Star grumbles she’s not a proper star like they have at NASA, Herod/Joseph won’t stop waving to his mum and dad, the Narrator is desperate to know all his words and the subversive Innkeeper is determined to liven up the traditional script. And then Peter Crouch, the stick insect, escapes…

Originally conceived for television, Tim Firth’s study of infant power-politics is less a cute, end-of-term entertainment than a kindergarten version of The Godfather, complete with seething vendettas, emotional blackmail and severed heads. Expanded from the TV version, it’s Jesus who gets decapitated, the outcome of a long-running dispute over whose doll gets to play the Messiah and which family’s turn it is to have their child play Mary.

This is not an easy play to perform and direct and it was very brave of first time director Eric Petterson to take on such a multi-layered production; on the whole it succeeded with giving last night’s appreciative audience moments of poignancy together with the witty one-liners, based on real-life events, when eight-year old children are let loose onstage. The staging could have been a tad less confusing perhaps, as at times it was unclear what was being performed as part of the nativity play itself, and what was ‘offstage’; combined with what seemed to be unnecessary “dum dum dum” and lightning sound effects, a headteacher role when Mrs Horrocks herself is unseen (her presence only made aware of by tambourine shaking, which was very well done) and audience carol singing, I am not sure the play also needed this fourth wall breaking audience security.

Very much an ensemble piece, child play is not easy to convincingly portray. Proving great depth and understanding, however, was Brian Stansbridge as Tim the Narrator, perfectly encapsulating fears and worries. His second Act scene in particular, when he realises his Dad was not in the audience, was so moving, together with the third Act adult scene with an equally emotional/always on the edge Jane Russell as Mary. Maria McDade was suitably acid as Mary 2 rival/Gabriel, actively encouraging outcast non-speaking, and Jez Minns showed great stage presence with the difficult role of bully boy ‘darer’ Innkeeper.

Act 3 reveals the parents and how and why the children have behaved in a certain way, including Philip De Grouchy’s warm stuttering Wiseman Frankincense, revealed in adult form as something quite the opposite, and bingo-winning Wiseman Gold, Rachel Eynon.

This witty play is an interesting alternative to the usual Christmas fare and those who have tickets for this sold out run will find much to enjoy. You may never see a child’s Nativity Play in the same light again, especially after free mulled wine and mince pies!

- David Putley

"It's Child's Play!"

Now Children, Nativity costumes ready?

The story of sweet, charming seven year olds and the production of their Christmas show. The children include a psychopath who wants to be Mary, a mafia boss who terrifies all the boys and a shepherd who knows where babies come from – and you moo a lot.”
Add “Mrs Horrocks is very keen which is more than you can say for the children (except Mary and the Narrator, obviously).
They are in their classroom because of the newts in the hall. (Don’t ask).

  • Will Gabriel get to play Mary?
  • Will the Innkeeper find true love?
  • Will anyone remember the words of the carols? (Except Mary, obviously).

Don’t miss Flint Street Nativity, the Maskers Christmas show (with carols, mince pies and mulled wine obviously).

Director & Cast

The Director of this production is Eric Petterson
Eric joined Maskers in 2012 to write songs and sing in the Christmas show. Up to now he has been an actor in many shows, including Great Expectations, Antigone, Wyrd Sisters and, latterly, as Len in Comfort Me with Apples. He has regularly performed in Christmas shows over the years, but this is his first time as director. He says that acting is much easier. In the words of Blackadder – “You just get drunk, stick on silly hats and trust to luck.". He doesn’t think that’ll work for a director…

Inn Keeper is played by Jez Minns
Jez has been acting with the Maskers since he was thirty and has been involved in many shows and made many wonderful friends. Recent productions include An Italian Straw Hat, Around the World in Eighty Days, Don Quixote and Twelfth Night. He’s very happy to be in this year’s Christmas show and next year he’ll be directing the one-act comedy Sharks in the Custard.

Star is played by Heather Calloway
A member of Maskers since 2018 only, Heather had an exhausting, but thoroughly enjoyable, time playing various small parts in the summer production of Don Quixote at Hamptworth. Then The Flint Street Nativity came along, a truly different kind of Christmas production and – well, who wouldn’t relish the idea of playing a star-struck seven-year-old? After all, her stage début at that age was playing Mary in the church nativity – although she is not saying how many years ago that was!

Narrator is played by Brian Sansbridge
Brian has been a member of Maskers for much longer that he cares to remember and has been involved in many shows, both as an actor and a director. Recent acting credits include Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote, the Station Master in our 2016 Christmas production Mistletoe Junction, Long John Silver in Treasure Island, plus taking over a major part in Separate Tables at the Nuffield Theatre, at nine hours’ notice, when the actor playing the part was stricken with laryngitis. Recent directing credits include Mistletoe Junction, Room at the Inn, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Servant of Two Masters and The Comedy of Errors.

Herod/Joseph is played by Ian Wilson
Ian has just finished directing 100 in the studio and considered that the prospect of going on to play a seven-year-old in a school nativity was a good way to wind down! He played an Innkeeper in a Junior school production just after the events of this nativity took place, so feels well able to bring in a vast experience of the period. Interestingly, some may argue that it’s not the first time as a member of Maskers he has been able to act like a kid.

Wiseman Frankinsense is played by Philip de Grouchy
Once again, your Yuletide is to be graced by Philip’s presence in the Maskers' Christmas Show. 'Can't they get rid of him?' you ask. Poor old fellow, we have to take pity on him; he can only manage shows in which he sits down for most of the time, as he thought - only to find himself tottering about as a very young school boy who can't 'thay hith eth-eth' in this funny yet touching comic nativity.

Mary is played by Jane Russell
The Flint Street Nativity marks Jane’s debut for Maskers (despite having been a member for several years!) and she is delighted to form new friendships. Since rekindling her love of acting in 2012, she has performed in over 25 productions with both RAODS and EOMS, her most recent been her favourite ever role – the infamous Mrs Godwin in Mary Shelley. Being a primary school teacher for over 30 years, Jane knows only too well the delights of the annual Christmas nativity – enough said!

Wiseman Gold is played by Rachel Eynon
Oh no, it is that time of year again.. This is becoming an annual event for Rachel! Last year she was a suffragette; this year she is a bit more needy and longs to be teacher’s pet. Poor Wise Gold wants to be everybody's friend. Will it end in tears? Let's hope her mum wins the bingo. Rachel herself has lots of lovely friends in the Maskers and is really enjoying herself finding her inner child (who is never far away).

Angel is played by Molly McDade

Gabriel is played by Marie McDade
Marie has been a Masker since 2011 and this will be her 4th Christmas Show. Her most recent role was a trophy wife/masseuse in A Bunch of Amateurs. She was – briefly – a junior school teacher back in the day, so will be drawing on distant but painful memories of school assemblies for this year’s nativity!

Shepherd is played by Sue Dashper

Ass is played by Jo Iacovou

Creative Team

Production Manager
Ken Hann
Stage Manager
Robert Osborne
Set Design
Set Construction
Set Dressing
Lighting Designer
Clive Weeks
Lighting Operator
Sound Designer
Jamie McCarthy
Sound Operator
Rosa Longman
Wardrobe & Costumes
Alison Tebbut
Rehearsal Prompt
Val Struthers

Ticket Information

Tickets £11

No concessions

Poster, Flyer & Programme

For the Maskers

Technical Manager:- Jamie McCarthy;   Lighting Consultant:- Clive Weeks;   Sound Consultant:- Jamie McCarthy;   Marketing Director:- Peter Court;   Marketing Team:- Sarah Russell, Angela Stansbridge, Clive Weeks, Robert Osborne, Meri Mackney, Paul Baker;   Front of House Manager:- Chris Baker;   Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker;   Photography:- Clive Weeks;   Bar Manager:- Meri Mackney
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Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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