A two-hander show is hard to pull off, so I had my reservations about The Boy Who Lost Christmas. The mime artist who handed me my programme as I walked in didn’t help (he was there for the show immediately after – don’t worry). However, I was pleasantly surprised by the charming performances of Katie Overstall and Andrew Skipper.
It’s Christmas Eve 1941, and Crispin is nine years old and is, in the words of the narrator, a little shit. But all he wants is to spend Christmas with his dad, who’s off fighting in the war. But upon finding out he’s been delayed, Crispin makes a wish that there be no Christmas until he and his mum can spend it with his dad. The heart-warming and funny story that follows includes a talking rat, a horny pigeon and poo-bombs – so not your average Christmas story.
Skipper and Overstall are behind the direction, the script, the production, the design and the performance of the show, and a great job they make of it. The script has a lovely metre, peppered with rhymes along with snappy, self-aware dialogue and narration. With both playing multiple roles, Skipper’s performance as Demetri, a talking rat with a wandering eastern European accent but a good heart, is a personal favourite. The charismatic performances and onstage chemistry between the two keep the pace snappy and the audience in fits. The run time, which is just under an hour, also keeps it pacey.
The use of props and physical theatre captures the imagination of the audience and allows the two-man cast to perform a show with at least seven characters and several different settings with fluency. Two plates and an oven mitt create a raven, whilst a torch and a plug-in fan create the effect of flying over London on said raven’s back. It calls to mind great children’s theatre, which uses ordinary objects to take younger audiences on epic adventures with tiny budgets. But the effect in The Boy Who Lost Christmas is anything but juvenile.
Overstall and Skipper effectively pull off a delightful evening of entertainment on what appears to be a shoestring budget, and are rewarded with the audience’s captivation and laughter. The snappy script and clever design ensure success for the dynamic duo, whose work I’d love to see develop and grow. Keep an eye out for The Underground Clown Club, which I hope won’t be underground for too long.
The Boy Who Lost Christmas played at The Space on 13 December For more information on future shows, see the Underground Clown Club website.