Monday, April 22

The Last Nativity – The Actor’s Church

“Now’s the perfect time for the nativity. They’re drunk enough that they’ll be forgiving but not so drunk that they’re falling asleep.”

Thus, siblings Laura, Blake and Mia begin the performance of the nativity play that Laura scripted when they were just children. Now all grown up, and having grown apart, the three return home for Christmas to discover that the last minute addition of Nana Sue to the family celebrations means their Secret Santa exchange is a gift short. Younger sister Mia (they never say she’s the youngest, but you can always tell, can’t you?), an actor struggling for work, devises the idea of giving Nana Sue the gift of a performance of a much loved nativity play, complete with badly aged songs (Santa Give Me A Kiss For Christmas would definitely have attracted the attention of Operation Yewtree) and some distinctly questionable props.

I’d never been to Iris Theatre’s ‘The Pod’ before – a temporary structure in the courtyard of St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. Despite my reservations it wasn’t cold in there, and while it’s not easy to make a black tarpaulin backdrop look festive, they’d given it a good go. The play is billed as a Christmas comedy, and although it was disappointingly predictable (the idea of Christmas bringing disparate family members together for moments of self-reflection and realisation isn’t exactly original) there are enough laughs in there to make it a passable way to spend an hour. The performances are solid, and Mia (Laura Pigott) belts out some enjoyable solos as well as doing a very impressive turn as a group of shepherds who seemingly came together from across the UK. “Cousin Jamie” (Musical Director Amir Shoenfeld) also does a great job on the keyboard throughout and helps to lift what could have been a slightly downbeat experience into a pretty merry affair.

The Last Nativity runs to 11th December, and while I probably wasn’t *quite* drunk enough to love it, if festive silliness is your thing, then do check it out.

Reviewer: Zoё Meeres

Reviewed: 7th December 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★