Christmas, 3 Stars

Christmas
11th to 22nd Dec 2016
Theatre N16

About the play: “One week ‘til Christmas. A bleak bar in the heart of London’s East End. Landlord Michael Macgraw is setting up for the Saturday punters – all two of them; young Billy Russell, a foul-mouthed football fan and Seppo the barber with an odd fondness for Drambuie and dreaming of Vienna. Christmas, a time for family, goodwill and peace to all men, but not for these three. They’ve barricaded themselves in for the night, and there’s only one thing on the agenda… drinking. But what will the arrival of a mysterious lone stranger mean for their sanctuary?

This December, Theatre N16 brings you the early and rarely performed work of critically acclaimed writer, Simon Stephens. In a play that centres on loneliness, inertia and celebrates the humility and humour of Britain’s white working class, you’ll find this Yuletide offering the perfect post-Brexit tonic”.

Brendan Weakliam as Michael McGraw
Jack Bence as Bille Lee Russell
Alex Gray as Giuseppe Rossi
Christopher Sherwood as Charlie Anderson
Tom Telford as Fat Man/Eccentric Man/Lost Dog Man

Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars
The East London bar is very authentic!!!! Site specific plays like this are gold dust for the Set Designer! Working bar taps, mirrored shelves holding the bar bottles all help!
Add in some tatty Christmas decorations and a Frank Sinatra picture on the wall and you’re complete!

You can also add in some venue downlights with MR16 lamps that have fallen out of their sockets, and coiled cables dangling from the copper coloured ceiling. All very authentic. And with this play you get away with it!

However, what I don’t think you can get away with is lighting the audience far brighter than the bar acting area. The House Lights stay on for the entire performance, well those downlights that actually work stay on, and the stage lights shine brightly in your peripheral vision as you peer towards the darker acting area.

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The script, although long and drawn out, has some cracking funny lines! The characters feel real, the cameo roles played by Tom Telford got good laughs but the stand out performance comes from Jack Bence. A younger male version of Catherine Tate’s gran character. Dry, witty and highly entertaining!

With more profanity than any show I’ve ever seen this is not a show for children! But with a start time of 9pm I doubt that’s a problem. Quite a fun way to pass the evening especially if you like a giggle at the absurdity of human nature and how drunk straight men interact in a bar.

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