bethlehemA Firehall Arts Centre Presentation of a Ruby Slippers Production
Hotel Bethlehem

Dates and Venue 14 - 23 December 2012, 8pm (5pm & 9pm Sat., 3pm Sun matinee & 1pm Wed matinee) | Firehall Arts Centre

Reviewer Karen Fitzgibbon

Now this is entertainment at its best! What a fun performance and a great beginning to this holiday season!

We are taken back to the time of Christ`s birth in Bethlehem and the romantic architecture of an old inn. The lights go out but when they come on again, two sheep herders are sleeping on a bench. (There is a bit of a discrepancy here. Are they shepherds or sheep herders? All part of the act of course.)

The dialogue is humorous and the periodic thumping of staffs throughout the play to stress a point becomes an expected funny gesture. The whole play takes place at the inn where people are constantly going in and out of doors, and at times, disappearing in a closet. The latter is due to one of the kings who is a bit disillusioned and thinks he is an illusionist.

There were Roman guards, an innkeeper who reminded me of Basil in Faulty Towers, a pretty servant, a near sighted government official taking a census, three crazy kings, a fishmonger, Joseph, and of course, we hear about pregnant Mary in the stable although we at no time see her. The lines come fast, furious and extremely funny. They are quick-witted and well-delivered.

This is one of the fastest moving comedies that I have ever seen. Some of the lines are so long, fast and wordy that it makes you hold your breath and wonder how the actors get through it.  Periodically, the government official’s donkey, costumed in burlap, would enter to retrieve a carrot--all part of the zaniness.

Bethlehem is well written, well directed and well presented. When a play is really good, the evening flies by and you are disappointed that it ends quickly. This was definitely the case in the performance i saw.

This play is so off the cuff that a king comes out with a Starbuck’s coffee in hand and reveals the actor’s name instead of the king in the script. These actors truly enjoyed being part of this play. This was evident in their success in keeping an entire audience laughing. BRAVO!

Oh, and by the way, that lamb puppet was a real plus. Sooo funnnnnny!

© 2012 Karen Fitzgibbon