ON the day when the vainglorious buffoon Donald Trump “decided” that the right thing to do was to proclaim Jerusalem capital of Israel, it seemed ironic to listen to the closing song of Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent’s seventies Rock Nativity, with its message of hope and love and peace.
The Romans had taken over the country, put their puppet king Herod on the throne of Judea, and bullied, taxed and even murdered the citizens to impose their power. Herod, fearing a takeover, had ordered the slaughter of all male children under the age of two. Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt until Herod had died. God’s son was sent from heaven to bring peace on earth.
We know the story. We know the outcome. We can see the likely future in the region.
But enough doom and gloom. Rosie King and her Motcombe Community Players and choir have made a Christmas play in the local churches something of a tradition, and this year, with MD David Grierson, they chose the show that was premiered in 1976, five years after Godspell and eight after Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – those were the days of the big biblical musical.
With a couple of well known carols to warm the audience voices, the company, with its expanded choir, swept into the show, using the whole church to retell the story of the Angel Gabriel (in the imposing figure and voice of Tim Trenchard) delivering his message to the innocent Mary, beautifully portrayed and sung by Anne-Louise Richards. Sam Skey is a convincing Joseph and Mark Blackham enjoys this almost pantomimic villain Herod.
With three wise men, five shepherds (two of them tipsy), Tess Hebditch as the fraught innkeeper’s wife, and Graham Dunlop as her husband and the Roman soldier, the cast was as strong in actors as it was in singing voices.
David Grierson coaxed some fine and impassioned singing from the choir, and led the band of Jackie Dobbs, Richard Clarke and Ray Humphries.
There are three performances, at St Peters and St James’s Shaftesbury and St Mary’s at Motcombe – and the cast had only rehearsed in their Motcombe home base.
So it’s a tribute to all concerned, back stage and on stage, that the packed opening night audience at St Peter’s had such an excellent and joyful evening. Many of the younger members were saying how wonderful this 70s music was.
There are a handful of tickets only for the next two performances. Visit the Motcombe Community Players website for details, or turn up at 7.30 and hope for the best.