Pros: If you aren’t feeling Christmassy already this production will definitely have you looking forward to the 25th of December.
Cons: The structure is unsteady. The whole thing is just barely strung together with the Blitz setting and the Blithe Spirit theme.
The two hour production is filled with songs, poems and readings – though we may be familiar with a large number of them, there were some which were new to me. Even with the backdrop of the red burning sky above St Paul’s, the festive spirit is enough to take hold of the audience and with the character’s forgetting about the troubles of the Blitz, the audience members are also able to lose themselves in the Christmas carols and stories. There are some hilarious moments, particularly Bednarczyk’s rendition of Coward’s Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans and the entire cast’s rendition of Hubert Gregg’s 1940’s song I’m Going To Get Lit up (When The Lights Go Up In London) garners raucous laughter and applause from the audience as the three drunkenly slump over the piano. Christmas Tree Angel had the audience clapping and singing along.
The reading of Christmas Truce by Private Frederick Heath detailing the truce between the British and the Germans on Christmas Day, when they played football and briefly forgot the war, creates a hush over the audience as the poignancy of the reading sinks in. Wakefield’s rendition of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is beautiful to listen to, as is Van Randwyck’s cover of Ivor Novello’s Keep the Home Fires Burning.
The set is simple and consists of the backdrop of St Paul’s, with a piano as the focal point of the room with a small Christmas tree on top and two chairs. The simple set means that the focus remains entirely on the cast and although it takes a while for the show to find its feet, it is easy to watch and is guaranteed to make even the biggest Grinch leave with a smile on their face.
Written and Directed by: Nick Hutchison
Booking until: 23 December 2014
Box office: 0844 264 2140
Booking link: http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/studio/noel-cowards-christmas-spirits/