A drama group has turned the nativity story into a horror show – featuring rape, abortion and murder.
The gruesome version – billed as ‘a Christmas nativity play like no other’ – claims to be a true depiction of the Bible.
Scenes include Joseph thinking of disowning Mary when she discovers she is pregnant, fearing she has been sleeping around or raped.
A distraught Mary then openly considers the prospect of aborting the baby Jesus.
The birth scene promises to reflect the true horrors of childbirth 2,000 years ago – against a soundtrack of screams and wailing.
And King Herod’s soldiers are shown acting out the massacre of babies by stomping on them to more wailing and screaming.
The nativity is being staged next week in the open air in Brighton, Sussex with a beach hut doubling as the stable in Bethlehem.
Tickets cost £10 – and children are being welcomed although one production member yesterday warned: “It is not your traditional kids’ play.”
The production is being put on by the Soul by the Sea arts group and directed by professional actor James Burke-Dunsmore who has played Christ on film and TV.
He said: “I’m not into shocking people at Christmas, I’m just telling the real story.
“I’m really pleased with it. The quality of the acting is fantastic.
“When Herod appears on stage declaring that he wants all the babies killed it chills the blood.”
He said that such was the emotion of the baby killing scene that one of the female actors nearly burst into tears.
He added: “The various nativity plays around the city are beautiful and moving in their own way but they aren’t true to the scripture.”
Committee member Alex Stewart-Clark said the play was ‘very emotional and very moving’.
But Bill McIlroy, from the Brighton and Hove Humanist Society, described the production as “a gimmick”.
He said: “It seems they jump at the chance to wheel out the blood and gore. It’s sadly just another gimmick because people aren’t going to church anymore.”
Local church leaders defended the play with Father Ray Blake of St Mary Magdalen’s Church in Brighton saying it is “a very good idea.”
He said: “The story of the birth of Christ is not for children.
“It is an adult story with horrific scenes such as King Herod’s men killing babies.
“Anything that helps break away from Santa, tinsel and reindeer is a good thing.”
The group’s website says: “The traditional nativity play can be beautiful, but the actual biblical story told by Matthew and Luke is often unrecognisable in these productions.
“This Christmas, we present a new nativity production, which will tell the whole narrative of John the Baptist and Jesus’ births in full, as written in the scriptures.”