Review of Desert Dust at The Star of Bethlehem – 4 Stars


Desert Dust at The Star of Bethlehem

Blue Elephant Theatre

Reviewed – 13th December 2017


“a heart-warmingly loving tale, for the whole family to enjoy”


As our population is starting to live longer, illnesses such as dementia are becoming more prevalent within society. It is finding ways in which we can help those who are suffering, keeping their minds still engaged, rather than just forgotten about in some care home. This is what The Dot Collective is trying to accomplish. They provide pop-up theatre and access to the arts for communities within a care environment. With their new festive project, Once Upon A Christmas Song, The Dot Collective facilitated a series of workshops with dementia and day care centres, getting participants to remember past Christmases, expressing what the yuletide means to them. It was this collaboration that spurned the charming modern-day Nativity story, Desert Dust At The Star Of Bethlehem, for all to enjoy.

Set in the upstairs dwellings of a 1970s East End inn, we follow the adventures of children Tina and Andy on Christmas Eve. Our main protagonists take the form of brilliant two-foot tall puppets (brought to life by actors Ariel Harrison and Chris Levens). They explore the different rooms of the inn, encountering the various lodgers, however, it is not until Tina and Andy stumble across a young couple hiding in their basement, that they discard their games of make-believe, to help the unknown woman who is about to give birth on their basement floor.

This cleverly written modern twist on the Nativity story, approached from the Innkeeper’s perspective, enchantingly encapsulated traditional Christmas values by drawing on the various mediums of music, storytelling and puppetry to make this a heart-warmingly loving tale, for the whole family to enjoy. Actor-musicians Sonya Cullingford and Toby Lee did a marvellous job at playing the multitude of characters that surrounded the puppets Tina and Andy, with all the performers making imaginative use of the basic yet homely set created by Ana Maio. Putting the show to one side, it is the uplifting process that The Dot Collective undertook that really is the special part of this production. The company have proved that quality artistic work should be for all and that you can become involved in the arts, no matter what age.


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole



Desert Dust at The Star of Bethlehem

was at the Blue Elephant Theatre



Click here to see more of our latest reviews on