‘This is Christmas – December 2014’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 12, 2014

‘This is Christmas – December 2014’ is very funny, ADULT (well, for over 15 yrs.) look at the many tales and events that take place around Christmas. Johnny Grim has given us more than a dozen, fresh and lively snippets that immediately had the audience in stitches. This is NOT a pantomime and the sketches are definitely politically incorrect. The show has a quick dig at politics, consumerism, religion – nothing is safe – along with the many questionable icons of today’s society.

For years now, Johnny has been giving absolute beginners, stacks of encouragement along with that all-important ‘little leg up’ on their desire to be on the stage. This show sees a few new faces with a lot of potential.

Johnny has again found ‘a cause’ to generously support, and this year the raffle money went to a Rotary project, the local women’s refuge.

This fun show from Elfin Productions can be seen at The Latvian Centre, 60 Cleaver Terrace, Belmont – lots of free parking. This venue is gradually being turned into a very smart, well-equipped little theatre. For this show, there was glitter and tinsel everywhere, with dozens of Santa parcels in front of the stage.

The 135-minute performances begin each evening at 8.00 pm; and the season runs until Saturday 20th December. There are Sunday matinees are at 5.00 pm on the 14th and 21st December.

 

       The curtains open to reveal a Christmas toy workshop. Pixie, Mr Pickles (Jane Sherwood), the chief toymaker, and his assistant, Zebedee (Eamonn Skov) are packing their high quality, wooden toy into boxes, when Rudolph (Bob Morshidi) and a reindeer friend arrive. They explain to the Elves that the children no longer want wood, but colourful plastic toys.

       After hundreds of years of excellent service, even Santa Claus (Pete Nettleton) can see the end is near.

       On a Jerusalem hillside, two shepherds, Seth (Cally Zanik) and  Obadiah (Callum Martin Santiago Calder) are watching their flocks, when they spot Balthasar (Graeme Cross) guiding the other two wise men across the desert, as he follows the star.

       Meanwhile, in a local shopping centre, the smiling spruiking promoters, Ashley (Amanda Watson) and Toby (Reece Darch) ooze insincerity from every pore, as they encourage the panic buyers to shop even more. On the other side of the world, Haggith (Alison Arrowsmith), a Glasgow wee nyaff, is trying to do shady business in his own way.

        At Santa’s workshop, the removal man (Dylan Grimshaw) is emptying the shelves and installing Lego kits.

        In a desperate attempt to bring cheer to the season, a choir chants outside a front door, but this is the house of Bah Humbug, Mr Robinson (Adam Salathiel). Will he change and love Christmas?

 

Director Johnny Grim has once again, gathered a wonderfully dedicated team, who have given it their all. Marjorie DeCaux has helped Barb Walton, the wardrobe queen. There are some amazing outfits, from the pixies, to the reindeers and the wise men. The quality of the sewing and design show their dedication.

The years of experience show in Graeme Johnson’s sound and Kathryn Carney’s lighting. With quite a limited rig, they have given a colourful and lively background to every scene.

Stage managers Linda Redman, Adam Salathiel and Dan Madgwick had a huge amount of work to do, but this they did – a little slowly (mainly due to limited wings space) – but were silent, well organised and most efficient. They also supplied many of the numerous props, other coming from Marg Milne.

An AV screen at each side of the stage added greatly to the mood, and worked amazingly well at filling in on the limited scenery. The delightful seasonal photos and video were the hard work of Graeme Johnson, Denys Lunn, Graeme Cross, and Chris Thomas.

You can feel the warmth of the whole team glowing through. The script is typical of Johnny Grim, edging on the ‘PI’ border. Johnny cleverly worked in the words of 70s songs into the script, which brought many a grin to the older members of the audience. Everyone came away with broad grins, but do not forget, the show is 15+. A completely different, zany and madcap Christmas show.