Review: The Flint Street Nativity ****

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Hull Truck Theatre

If you admit to disliking panto at this time of year you might as well be telling Bob Cratchit he can’t have any more coal for the fire.

An aversion to panto doesn’t mean you don’t like Christmas, and here is the perfect festive show if shouting ‘he’s behind you!’ makes you squirm but you want to get into the spirit of the season.

Tim Firth, the writer of the Calendar Girls movie and stage play, is the author of this ingenious show that presents an hilarious look behind the scenes of a school nativity.

Adult actors play the roles of the children in the nativity, a conceit that is immediately amusing in itself and a cracking cast milk the script for all its worth in a genuinely funny play. At times they fall into the trap waiting for actors when playing children in that they play them as slightly backwards, rather than just young, but on the whole the performances really bring out the latent hilarity in Firth’s script.

The real brilliance of the script is highlighted in the final scene when the actors, who we have just watched playing children, reappear as their parents.

You realise you have learnt an awful lot about the parents through the children and their amusingly skewed versions of the Christmas carols.

You’ll be fighting back tears when you watch the parents tell their lies and half-truths when you have already heard the real story from their children.

To January 14.