Take today for example. Joseph - magnificently played by a young lad called, remarkably enough, Joseph Miller - has a lot of trouble not letting his mind wander for the five or so minutes after his big line about having a place for "me and my wife Mary". It is a lot for the kids to cope with and remember, especially when Mr Furnish keeps faffing about with the lights and sound. At Tuesday's rehearsal Joseph tried to engage the sheep in conversation about advent calenders and who's got the "bestest one". His au pair read heat magazine throughout. Today, mummy had replaced au pair and spent the entire time shouting above the children's babble of conversation and Miss Biddulph who was on her way to losing her temper with Mr Furnish who was having a hissy fit because the star wasn't hanging right. Mummy kept yelling "keep your head up and shoulders down" and "E-NUN-CI-ATE!" during Joseph's plea to the inn keeper (hilariously played by Mac's friend Ben who has obviously gone to the Derek Trotter School of Acting).
But all in all, things are looking pretty good. There was a slightly worrying moment during the Angel of the Lord speech when lovely Laura Jacobs forgot her lines and wailed into the darkness of the wings "Mummmeeee, what comes next?". The hymns (Away in a Manger and Once in Royal David's City) took my breath away with their simplicity - even though half of the children didn't have a clue what they were singing but bellowed "Once in Royal David's City stood a lonely apple shed" with all of their little hearts.
Magnificent. My own little star urged me to dissect his role in the play on the way home. I told him he was the very essence of all things sheepy which pleased him no end. "I'm an essence sheep!" he proclaimed when David arrived home (weary and bedraggled and cursing the crowds flocking to see the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree). "My little lamb!" David enthused from beneath three joyous woofers - his arrival home is an event for this household. "Lamb?" Mac queried darkly, shooting me A Look.
Well, said David as he boiled the pasta for Mac's dinner, how the hell was I supposed to know we had lamb chops for dinner?