Review: The Butterfingers Angel, Captive Audience

I applaud anyone brave enough to tread the boards in the name of entertainment – it can be nerve-wracking for even the most seasoned of thespians. But the first time you step up on stage in front of an audience must be even more daunting. 

Those with aspirations for the limelight usually start young. As with everything else children feel less fear than adults and their faltering first words will more than likely be considered cute and endearing. 

It’s not quite so simple for anyone past their teens, so three cheers to the cast of a show being staged by Captive Audience in Belper this week who are, in the main, making their debut as amateur actors. I imagine they will be feeling a mixture of sheer terror and excitement as the ‘curtain’ goes up.

This team joined a Wednesday night adult acting group just a year ago and had so much enthusiasm that their tutors have helped them produce a festive show with the ridiculously wordy title of The Butterfingers Angel, Mary and Joseph, Herod The Nut and the Slaughter of 12 Carols in a Pear Tree.

This play, written by William Gibson in 1975, has a decidedly different recounting of the nativity. 

Mary and Joseph have a rocky start to their relationship – a feisty Mary certainly isn’t sold on the idea of marriage and children – but thanks to a bumbling Angel of the Lord sent to earth to set up the virgin birth, we do get our manger scene. Thrown into the mix are an evil ruler, three kings, a talking tree and a wacky donkey.

If you want to see an unusual nativity and are prepared to give some support and encouragement to a group of hard-working newbies to the amateur dramatic scene then get yourself to Strutts Centre, Belper, where the play can be seen from tonight until Saturday at 7.30pm.

For tickets go to and click on what’s on. You can find out more about Captive Audience at

The cast are Jane Bate, Joseph; Mel Hall, Mary; Liz Holgate, Angel; John Briscoe, Herod The Nut; Clare Mullen, Tree; Simon Tomlinson, Donkey and Sheila Kay Sly, Jay Carr and Jayne Nelson as the Kings.

The play is directed by Simon Tomlinson, the design and stage management is by Caroline Hawley and the technical support Jamie Vella.