Pros: An alternative festive play for adults stuffed with laughter and rude songs that remind you of the importance of family and friends at Christmas.
Cons: Some of the jokes tried a little bit too hard and fell flat.
Thirty Christmases follows the story of brother and sister Jonny and Rachael who are living a nomadic life with their alcoholic father. The play charts their abandonment, their fall out and ultimate reconciliation. Writer Jonny Donahoe and Director Alice Hamilton handled the potentially depressing subject matter with skilful humour and a healthy dose of Christmas cheer to ensure this play remains light-hearted and festive in feel.
The play covers topics ranging from sibling rivalry, social inequality and feminism to childhood neglect and abandonment, all through the lens of two children and three young adults’ experiences at Christmas time over a thirty year period.
Actors Jonny Donohoe, Paddy Gervers and Rachel Parris all gave warm, funny and understated performances as both young and old Jonny, Paddy and Rachel. Throughout the evening we watched them working through the disappointments and let-downs inflicted on them by their families and each other, coming to terms with their experiences and moving on, all against the background of Christmas.
The sadder moments are punctuated by comedic songs with a message such as “Don’t be a prick at Christmas”, plus a number of one-liners that lighten the mood. Whilst most of the songs and jokes hit the mark a few didn’t quite land for me.
The actors all sang and played their own instruments with gusto throughout, which really added to the vibrancy of the performance and were essential in lifting the aforementioned darker moments. The original songs were witty and lampooned issues that included the inappropriate lyrics of many Christmas songs (‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ and ‘Do They Know it’s Christmas Time’) to capitalism and the commercialisation of Christmas.
The stage setting was cleverly considered with many props concealed until needed: for instance sandwiches and snacks hidden inside washing machine draws and ironing boards and lampshades that magically turned into keyboards and guitars. Staging and lighting were cleverly used to bring the scenes to life without needing to change the scenery. i.e. a washing machine with a spotlight was transformed into the back seat of a car.
Overall, a heart-warming Christmas play for older audiences for a very reasonable £15 per ticket including a mince pie and a mulled wine. I defy anyone to find a better deal at the pantos on the West End. This is a festive night on the town guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Writter: Jonny Donahoe
Director: Alice Hamilton
Producer: Supporting Wall
Booking Until: 23 December 2017
Box Office: 0207 282 9034
Booking Link: http://www.newdiorama.com/whats-on/thirty-christmases