BWW Review: THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Southwark Playhouse
Snow isn't yet falling all around us. And I haven't seen the Coca Cola truck stopping by. But John Lewis has released their advert, so I suppose it's beginning to look a little like Christmas. Full of it's own individual kind of holiday cheer, Anthony Neilson's winter tale is revived at Southwark Playhouse.
The setting is Christmas Eve. Whilst most people are fast asleep in preparation for Santa's annual visit, Simon has been summoned out of bed and told to go to meet Gary, who has caught an elf. Or is it just someone dressed as one? Who knows? The captive claims he's legit and begins to tell exciting tales about the big man in red.
Gary believes him - maybe just so he isn't bored for once - whilst Simon wants to call the police. Their decision-making is interrupted by the arrival of Cheryl, a sex worker, who comes demanding the presents she was promised in exchange for sexual acts. She then becomes embroiled in the action.
Far from being a family-friendly show, Alex Suton's production does a decent job in retaining our attention, although more could have been done to really wow us. Dan Starkey as the Elf and Douggie McMeekin as Gary do have enjoyable stage chemistry, and their dialogue bounces off each other well. But none of the performances ever really amazes.
The stage is full of high energy and that's great, but sometimes it means that the performances remain very one note. The play feels long, which isn't a good sign when it runs at an already short 60 minutes. But that's down to the direction; there doesn't seem to be much of a 'fresh perspective'.
It's a shame because in the right hands this could have been a really exciting revival. This production is pretty middle of the road.
Photo credit: Darren Bell