The Liverpool Nativity was fantastic. In my opinion it is the highest profile the gospel has had in the UK since the Manchester passion. Whilst it was always going to miss the presence of Keith Allan, Geoffrey Hughes gave a sterling performance of Gabriel. OK, so it was sometimes not true to the nativity as written but it appeared to be true to the whole of the teachings of Jesus. It has to be said though, Ruth and I knew more of the songs from the Manchester Passion.
My one complaint about the show was that it was often used as a vehicle for political comment and this was allowed to dominate the Christmas story. Casting Herod as a black woman made a big statement about the current media concerns that made people make a justifiable double take. However, Herodia’s major crime was racial prejudice and lack of compassion to immigrants. This presented her currently topical right wing political views as the vehicle for her to become a figure of hatred. I suppose the best illustration of the nativity using it’s position on TV to make political comment was the retort to Herodia by one of the Magi, “Shouldn’t that be homeland insecurities”? As I say, it seemed to be concerned with Gospel issues but sometimes it felt like a shameless attack on modern forms of government.
Where I felt the modern issues particularly worked as part of the story was the casting of Mary and Joseph as a mixed race couple. This was a stroke of genius that highlighted one of the major issues facing the UK at the moment. Placing Joseph as an immigrant made the issue real and gave a voice to those who are marginalised at Christmas time. When we are all tucking into turkey and raising a glass it is often difficult to remember that we are one of the few who can. The Liverpool nativity took one of the issues that is throughout the Gospel whilst not staying true to the letter of the story. This in my opinion is a much better deviation than the addition of donkeys, goldfish, Caspar and reporters that we are usually force to endure. As a-religious as the story at some points appeared, it cannot be denied that it represented Jesus. This is best demonstrated by the final line of the show,
Jesus really was a revolutionary. Throughout his whole life his message was love!
The real question I have is – how come it only dawned on us half way through the show that we could have been 40 miles down the road and seen it live. Dur!!
If you missed it it is repeated on BBC1 on 23rd December.