The festive season is in full swing, and many of our readers will be looking forward to a well-earned seasonal break – if not already kicking back with a mug of mulled wine and a mince pie.
In case you’re in need of some inspiration on how to spend your holiday time, we’ve rounded up the Christmas shows that have caught our reviewers’ eyes so far to give you some ideas.
Here are some of the shows that got thumbs up from the AYT reviewing team.
A Christmas Carol, The Vaults
“Between ludicrous innuendo and a rousing telling of a good Christmas story by genuine enthusiasts and theatrical craftsmen, this is that proper, rare Christmas gift of a show for everyone,” said Fred Maynard, after an evening in the company of the Fitzrovia Radio Hour gang, for their latest festive-themed outing. Pots, pans – and even a bowl of rice crispies playing the part of a roaring fire – provide the uproariously inventive sound effects while the audience is treated to a clever live radio play version of the classic Christmas fable. Cut glass 1940s accents, farce and festivity are the name of the game in what Fred describes as “properly laugh-out-loud, knockabout stuff with the most inventive set of sound effects you’ll see on the stage for a while.” Read Fred’s review here.
A Christmas Carol is playing at The Vaults until December 31.
The Snowman, The Peacock Theatre
“There’s plenty to get your teeth stuck into and what’s so beautiful about The Snowman returning to The Peacock’s stage year after year is how attractive it is to different people of varying ages,” said AYT reviews coordinator Sam Sims, when he went to see the Christmas classic. Featuring an enchanted journey, retro, nostalgia-inducing aesthetics and of course Howard Blake’s unforgettable score, Raymond Briggs’ much-loved tale is one for all the family. “There’s a lot of dance involved, yet it isn’t strictly a dance piece. Rather, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre have created what can be summed up as a play without words. It is simple and very magical,” said Sam in his review. Read the full review here.
The Snowman is playing The Peacock Theatre until January 1 2017.
Peter Pan, The National Theatre
“This is masterful storytelling from one of the best directors in British theatre, proof that devising will always get you the most imaginative results…A wholly magical interpretation of Peter Pan, with so much playing involved you want to get up and join in,” is how AYT reviewer Rob Ellis described the National’s retelling of JM Barrie’s moving story. A cracker of an ensemble cast, and a Neverland full of childlike wonder, devoid of cheap trickery or a reliance on effects, this is a Pan stripped back to its roots in fantastical storytelling and endless imagination. Read Rob’s review here.
Peter Pan is playing the National Theatre until February 4 2017.
Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves, Theatre 503
“It’s pantomime with a jaunty twist and an intelligent exuberance. Even the biggest pantomime cynic would find enjoyment in this infectiously fun production,” said AYT reviewer Calum McIntosh of The Sleeping Trees’ creative take on the classic Christmas genre of panto. When a Wicked Witch steals the world’s festive cheer, it’s most unlikely hero, Ebenezer Scrooge, is called upon to muster enough Christmas merriment to save the holiday. Purists – no need to worry, there are plenty of panto conventions to frame the action, with no shortage of audience ad libbing and ‘it’s behind you’s. But there’s also invention and wit to add a layer of fast-paced freshness. Read the review here.
Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves is playing at Theatre 503 till January 9 2017.
Another Night Before Christmas, The Bridge House Theatre
Carole hates Christmas, and all the commercialism and expectation that comes with it. But when she encounters a cheerful homeless stranger who claims to be Santa, she’s forced to reconsider her cynicism. AYT reviewer Emily May admitted that the show does tread some well-worn festive clichés, but she fell for the double act of engaging performances from Rachael Wooding and George Maguire. “It’s warm, humorous and relatable,” said Emily. “If all you’re after is a humorous and familiar introduction to the Christmas festivities, Another Night Before Christmas’ combination of capable actors and comic accents is sure to deliver.” Read the review here.
Another Night Before Christmas is running at The Bridge House Theatre until December 23.
Photo: Robert Workman