THE STORY: Arthur Gelb’s comments on THE CURATE’S PLAY as presented at St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City: “Its intention is to make meaningful, in modern terms, the lovely but remote tableau of the miracle of Bethlehem. To this end, Mr. Banks has superimposed a robust, contemporary drama upon a series of stylized, pantomimed episodes of the Nativity, connected by Biblical narrative. The Christmas pageant takes place during what is supposed to be an actual church service…The pageant is interrupted by the young curate’s plea for a doctor (who rises from a pew and strides to the chancel). A woman comes forward from another pew and offers her fur coat as covering for the mother-to-be. A second woman protests noisily from her pew against the unorthodox proceedings, expresses her bigoted view that charity to strangers is a matter for the Police Department, not the Church, and angrily leaves the service. The doctor briefly suspends his off-stage ministerings to harangue the curate about the population explosion and to jeer at the miracle of birth. And finally, an actor playing the Vicar ascends the chancel to voice his plea for the survival of man with spiritual dignity. Between these interruptions, the children’s tableau runs its course."
This deeply moving retelling of the Christmas Story may be easily and effectively presented in theatres, auditoriums or churches. Blending narration, tableaux, traditional music and a modern “play-within-a-play,” it unites the timeless and the contemporary in an experience filled with great spiritual meaning. “…a perfect blending of religion and art.” —NY Times. “The reverence of the observance not only has been kept but enhanced.” —NY World-Telegram & Sun.