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Plays for all times

STARS OF WONDER: Five Christmas plays for children. By Brian Mountford. Tufton Books. Pounds 6.99.

THE SOWER, MRS NOAH AND A DENTIST. by Brian Mountford. Tufton Books. Pounds 9.99.

It is a mistake to think that schools, in these multi-ethnic times, do not want to tell the Nativity story at Christmas.

Just as their Diwali productions contain all the familiar ingredients, so they want Christmas plays which have angels, shepherds, kings and the Holy Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.

This is what Brian Mountford provides in Stars of Wonder. What he also gives us, though, in each of these well-written plays, is a different way into the story. So in The Cat's Cradle the story is told by small insects and animals that live in the stable; Knock, Knock, Who's There? is a nativity play set in a medieval court; Yuletide TV News is the Christmas story told by television news; Mak the Thief is based on a medieval miracle play; and in Christmas Cabaret, four performers improvise with a box of props. The plays have suggestions for songs and carols; there is the possibility for flexibility in casting. They are entertaining and thought-provoking, and none lasts more than half an hour.

The Sower, Mrs Noah and a Dentist is a collection of plays, poems and stories for eight to 13-year-olds. There is something for most events in the Christian Year including Harvest, Easter and Mothering Sunday. This is a mine of material for assemblies and special occasions.

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