Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Nativity, not bad....just naff!

Yes, I actually watched episode two of the Beeb's production, 'The Nativity' tonight. It was not as cringingly awful as I had thought at first but it was pretty naff.

For a start, Our Lady (Mary) appeared petulant in the opening scenes; she had a petulant, or, at least, puckish face; fine for many roles but not this one
Now, I say that as one who likes tradition. That means that actors playing classical parts are, in my view, at their best when looking the part and speaking classical English. Once they start on the regional accents you begin to drift into the realm of fantasy. Was St Joseph speaking with an Irish accent? I started to wait for the word "Youse" to come at the end of a sentence. One of the three kings looked rather Rasta in appearance and his accent was pure Brixton. Again, I was waiting for the "innit" or "Blood" words to enter the proceedings.
That is a distraction. What is wrong with the Queen's English, or, for that matter, Oxford English? It is, after all, a classical story that is being told. One could argue that the producer should have gone the 'authentic' way and had all the cast spouting off in Mile End Road Yiddisher accents, and, to tell the truth, Herod's right hand man did, so I believe, sell me some dodgy DVDs in Spitalfields market last Sunday....but no....
The trouble is that once you go down the route of popularising the story, any story, you run the risk of losing the essence of the plot.

Rasta, Wycliffe and Balthasar!
 You begin to think Galway instead of Galilean, Wycliffe instead of Melchior (!). And  what was the Archangel Gabriel playing at? I have never seen Billy Connolly in a straight part before...(I jest)...and what was with the whispering the whole time? Gabriel was doing it Joachim joined him. It does not add to the drama..when will producers realise this basic fact?
I am, of course, out of my time; but, before you condemn me totally, which of these line styles do you prefer?

Elizabeth:   "My baby gave such a kick when I saw you......"

or

Elizabeth: "The babe leaped in my womb when I saw you...."

The choice is just so straightforward..............innit?

7 comments:

  1. You obviously have a stronger stomach than I! Sensing the naffness,I just couldn't bear to watch it. That they are making some effort to get to grips with what Christmas is actually about is, nevertheless, remarkable in post-Christian Britain.

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  2. Dear Friends, I am glad you gave it a try, I actually speak (most of the time)in a received pronunciation accent, as that is how I was brought up, BUT, it is a regional accent just as much as my husbands Pembrokeshire or my children's Valleys lite! Don't be misled I love King James Version its what I was brought up with (I could read it myself by age 8)This Nativity is being seen by the sort of people who run a mile when folk like us advocate something,and the actual Conception of Our Lord was truly shown to be a miracle. Joseph's accent isn't bad ,don't forget the comments about Galileans in the New Testament!

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  3. Diddleymaz....

    Whey aye, as they say in Pembrokeshire. You make a good point. I could get used to an 'Irish' St Joseph, I recall a story told by author Robin Flower, a noted Catholic hater, who, upon entering a church on the island of Lewis, found the priest in the porch chiselling off the snake writhing under the feet of a statue of St Patrick.
    When he asked the priest what he was about the priest told him that the church was dedicated to St Joseph but, as they did not have a statue of him, they were 'adapting' St Patrick!
    Flower thought this was barbaric and primitive but I think it jolly good!

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  4. Lol, yes the firm that supplies Plaster statues in the UK uses a sort of generic Bishop for several different Saints! just paints them in different colours (same probably goes for monks/friars and nuns!)
    By the way my husband is from the north of the Landscar not "Little England beyond Wales", Saint Davids to be exact.

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  5. Ah, St Davids,a mere 14 miles from where I live and home to a beautiful Cathedral - in the 16th century :)

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  6. Its beautiful now, and the Bishops Palace isnt looking bad, (mainly thanks to my brother-in-law)so are you in Haverfordwest? my husband doesnt know your name so you cant be from St Davids!We are very sad not to have got down to St Davids before Christmas as our son Geraint's ashes are buried there, along with Geoffs Mum,Step-Dad ,and Grandfather, Great Grandfather et al.

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