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Show or tell?

It’s census time in Bethlehem and all the inns are full… especially the extremely hygienic bed and breakfast run by Jacob, Agoraphobia and their daughter Hannah, where even the toilets are so clean you can see your face in them…

So when Mary and Joseph turn up, Hannah can only suggest their unhygienic stable. Add a couple of shepherds with a smelly sheep and a romance and you have the ingredients for the new nativity play Scrub That Manger! by Neil Pugmire and presented by Top Cat Theatre Company, currently touring venues around the area.

The play explores the wonder of the incarnation: the grubby unhygienic birth in a stable; the king of heaven laid in an – horrors!- unscrubbed manger.

This is a real family show – enough slapstick and lavatory humour to appeal to the Dick and Dom generation, together with plenty of adult-friendly jokes and character-based comedy to enliven the plot.

Where the play is weakest is in the static semi-sermonising towards the end when the audience is told the meaning of Christmas. Where it works best is in showing the effect of Jesus’ birth on the people in Bethlehem. A lively, thoroughly enjoyable retelling of the Christmas story: catch it while you can.

The Portsmouth News, 5 December 2003


All images copyright Top Cat Theatre Company.