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BWW Reviews: TIMES SQUARE ANGEL, Union Theatre, December 3 2014

Albert the Angel (Michael Adams with a devilish twinkle in his eye) has been shooting craps and convening poker schools in paradise thereby inviting the wrath of God (no less), so he must make his heavenly bones by descending back to Earth to save a soul en route to Hell. Cue chanteuse Irish O'Flanagan (Ian Stroughair in his Velma Celli drag queen persona), a bright kid with bad luck and bad attitude falling in with the wrong crowd. Can Albert save Irish and so save himself? It's New York and it's Christmas Eve 1948 - what do you think?

Charles Busch's play has plenty of A Christmas Carol, a sprinkling of It's A Wonderful Life and a touch of A Fairytale Of New York about it, so there's the pedigree for a Christmas show that steers well clear of panto. Each of the characters is rounded and (to use an overused word) edgy, ducking and diving in and out of the shadows that fall across all big cities, Christmastide or not. Sitting under railway arches with trains rumbling in the distance, this production benefits from the whiff of authencity from start to finish.

The mainly young cast do a good job, with Eduardo Enrikez menacing as the small-time gangster with big dreams and Ellen Verenieks both a convincing drunk and a warm narrator. Velma Celli, on high heels and with a flaming red wig stretching her height to two metres or so, dominates the stage - raunchy, rough and ultimately redeemed. But we would so love some more songs, sung in that voice richly coloured by loves won and lost - please?

Performed all-through at 90 minutes or so, Times Square Angel (continuing at the Union Theatre until 21 December) quits before its somewhat predictable narrative arc begins to grate, its welcome not overstayed. If you like your Christmas angels firmly anchored in our world, one in which many would be glad of a stable's shelter on a freezing night, then this is the show for you.

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From This Author Gary Naylor