MONDAY 18 DECEMBER 2023 THISWEEKCULTURE.COM
Well, it's time for the Christmas holiday, the only time of the year when the TW Weekly takes a break from the business of finding its way into your inbox.

And for that reason, this week's edition is tipping stuff all the way from 19 Dec through until 8 Jan. So that's quite a long time period and there are quite a few brand new suggestions for entertainment you can avail yourself of as you celebrate the festive season.

What I always think, at this time of year, though, is that there are lots and lots and lots of shows still running that we tipped over the last few weeks, many of which are festive and Christmas themed, so wouldn't you like to be reminded of those?

And perhaps those of you trying desperately to avoid all that, looking for some entertainment of a more year-round kind... wouldn't you like a heads up about those shows, in case they slipped your mind?

Anyway, that's what we're doing here, a tips round up for your information and delectation. Read on.

First up, as I suspect always, we need to talk about Scrooge, and all the shows invoking his name at this time of year.

There are four new 'A Christmas Carol' related shows in this week's new tips, but weirdly, of all those Scroogey shows we tipped in the last few weeks, only one is still running, through to 6 Jan, and that's 'Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol' at the Orange Tree Theatre (pictured above).

Don't be sad, though, there are a bunch of other Scrooge shows we never got around to tipping, such as the Jack Thorne one on until 6 Jan at The Old Vic starring Christopher Eccleston, the one man show at the Dickens Museum until 23 Dec, eating-food version 'The Great Christmas Feast' until 14 Jan, and Mark Gatiss's adaptation starring Keith Allen at Ally Pally until 7 Jan.

Oh, and there's also the acclaimed Conan Doyle/Dickens mashup 'A Sherlock Carol' at the Marylebone Theatre.

Perhaps we should talk about pantomimes now? We tipped quite a few and even interviewed some people about them.

'Jack And The Beanstalk' at the OSO Arts Centre ends on 23 Dec, so get your skates on if you want to go to that, but you've got until 30 Dec to see 'Potted Panto' at Wilton's Music Hall, and until 31 Dec to see both 'Aladdin' at the Hackney Empire and 'Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime' at Jermyn Street Theatre.

And if you're looking for something to cheer up the early days of the new year, 'Aladdin' at Fairfield Halls is on until 7 Jan, while 'Cinderella' at the Lyric Hammersmith and 'Jack And The Beanstalk' at Stratford East are both on until 6 Jan.

Next, I think, we will focus on child-focused and family shows, because there are frankly loads of them and many go on well into the new year, like 'Charlie Cook's favourite book', on at Little Angel Studios until 4 Feb, 'Wow! It's Night-Time', at Little Angel Theatre until 27 Jan, 'The Snow Queen' and 'The Night Before Christmas', both at Polka Theatre until 21 Jan and 14 Jan respectively, and 'The Three Billy Goats Gruff' at Jacksons Lane until 7 Jan.

If you're looking for stuff that's definitely in December, however, there's 'Fairy Tale On Church Street' at the The Cockpit until 30 Dec, plus 'Dear Santa' at ArtsDepot'The Light Princess' at The Albany, and 'Rapunzel' at Theatre Peckham all on until Christmas Eve, and finally, finishing on 31 Dec are 'Cinderella' at Brixton House and 'I Want My Hat Back' at Artsdepot.

Okay, where shall we go next? Stuff that isn't overtly Christmas themed? Okay, let's do it. Though bear in mind that some of these shows may have a mild hint of Christmas just by dint of being a big fun show of the sort you might treat yourself to at Christmas time. Like, a musical, maybe.

Speaking of which, if you are looking for that kind of entertainment, we definitely have options, like 'Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch' at Southwark Playhouse Elephant until 17 Feb, 'Two Strangers (Carry A Cake Across New York)' at the Kiln Theatre until 20 Jan, and 'Stranger Sings' at Southwark Playhouse Borough until 6 Jan.

If you're looking for a laugh, maybe try 'The Time Machine' at Park Theatre until 30 Dec, '£1 Thursdays' until 22 Dec at The Finborough, and, all ending on 23 Dec: 'Garry Starr Performs Everything' at Southwark Playhouse Borough, 'Spy Movie: The Play!' at The Hope Theatre, and 'Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen' at Bush Theatre.

If you're up for something with more serious themes, try 'Dreaming And Drowning', also at Bush Theatre, also until 23 Dec.

And finally, a more Christmassy ending to the proceedings, with "alternative Christmas show" 'Protest Song' at Arcola Theatre until 6 Jan, 'Oh No It Isn't' - set backstage at a pantomime performance - at Jack Studio also until 6 Jan, and the yuletide-set comedy horror 'Midwyntar' at Old Red Lion until 22 Dec.

Plus, let's not forget those shows that actually have actual Christmas words in the title: 'Chriskirkpatrickmass - A Boyband Christmas Musical' at Seven Dials Playhouse until 30 Dec, and 'Christmas Is Cancelled' at the Etcetera Theatre until Christmas Eve.

And, last but not least, a well loved favourite that possibly should have been up at the top of this list, but which I saved to nicely bookend it: 'Shit-Faced Showtime: A Pissedmas Carol' at Leicester Square Theatre until 6 Jan. Enjoy!

Plus, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all those who celebrate these things. See you in January!
Shows to see over the festive period - including performances from people and companies we first discovered at the Edinburgh Festival.


CHRISTMAS CAROLS>>

A Christmas Carol | Middle Temple Hall | 20-29 Dec (pictured)
We're very close to Christmas now and it's the last set set of Three To Sees for the year, so of course there was going to be another clutch of 'A Christmas Carol' shows to talk to you about. This production, by Antic Disposition, is a beloved institution, returning each year to the very atmospheric Middle Temple Hall. In not remotely surprising news, a number of dates are completely sold out and elsewhere available tickets are dwindling, so quick, click here and book.

A Christmas Carol - As Told By Jacob Marley (deceased) | White Bear Theatre | 23 Dec
Just one performance of James Hyland's critically acclaimed and award winning one man adaptation of the Dickens classic, so not everyone can go, I guess, but if you're free then definitely consider it. Because it's ace, and, as the title suggests, is told through the eyes of Scrooge's ex-partner. "Through Marley's words, we learn how three magical spirits opened Scrooge's eyes and made him realise the true value of love and forgiveness". Click here.

An Improv Christmas Carol | Golden Goose Theatre | 19-21 Dec
As a very big fan of 'A Christmas Carol' and a very big fan of improv I may have let out a little yip when I heard about this show. For yes, it incorporates both, which is quite exciting, if you're me. It's presented by Make It Beautiful Theatre Company's Dream Machine, who promise to flip the time honoured tale on its head with the help of audience suggestions, and guarantee Christmas cheer and chaos complete with improv-ing musicians. Info here.


MORE CHRISTMASSY SHOWS>>

Your Christmas Carol Experience: A New Immersive Adventure | The Space | 21-22 Dec
More Christmassy shows for you now, though the first one is another 'Carol' related show that fell out of section one, and, um, doesn't actually sound all that Christmassy. And it's certainly quite different, because it's not about Scrooge, it's about you. This immersive event is for small audiences (ten at a time) and invites participants to "engage with your own story, your own connections, and your own memories and imaginations". More here.

The X-MASsacre: A Christmas Murder Mystery Comedy | The Bread & Roses Theatre | 19 -23 Dec
"For their Christmas party this year, Vasilis has a special surprise planned for his cheating wife, Mary: murder! And with all of their eccentric guests, there are plenty of suspects he can pin the fiendish crime on! The plan is fool-proof! Or so Vasilis thinks..." Hmm, not sure how festive attempted wife-killing might be, but this has Christmas in the title and promises to be funny, so I'll give it a go. Info on the venue website here.

The Little Mermaid | Hoxton Hall | 21-29 Dec (pictured)
It feels like months (though it's probably about a month) since we did our first pantomime tip of the season and now here we are doing the last one for this year. Our final suggestion is 'The Little Mermaid' over at Hoxton Hall, which offers a "fresh, fantastical spin" on the well loved tale, alongside all the usual panto stuff - colourful characters, goodies and baddies, songs, silliness, and joining in. Head to the venue website here for info and to book.


FUNNY STUFF>>

Dungeons N Bastards | Soho Theatre | 20-22 Dec
We're moving into the post-Christmas section of the tips now, as all the remaining recommendations are in late December or early January. Apart from this one, which is on this week, so get a move on with adding it to the diary and booking your tickets. You won't regret it, for this is, of course, TW favourite Adam Riches, with his cult edfringe hit show, and it's a quality late night game show experience. Head to the venue website here for all the info.

The Amazing Banana Brothers | Soho Theatre | 3-13 Jan
Huh, only just noticed that all three picks for the funny section of this edition of the Three To Sees are taking place at Soho Theatre, so well done them. Though I guess it's not the first time by any means that this has happened. Anyway, here's a show with bananas in the title (they're an intrinsically funny fruit, right?) that's about daredevil brothers slipping on a thousand banana peels, and which has won oodles of acclaim for creator Bill O' Neill. Read more about it here.

Urooj Ashfaq: Oh No! | Soho Theatre | 8-20 Jan (pictured)
"Urooj is a stand-up comedian who hails from Mumbai, India. She not only has a degree in psychology but later went on to be in therapy herself. What is her show about, you ask? I think you should ask YOURSELF why you insist on knowing everything. Why don't you just show up for the thing, be surprised, and go with the flow?" Um yeah, okay. Do what Urooj Ashfaq's official blurb says I guess. She won Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards after all. More here.


ALL THE SEVEN(TIE)S>>

Seven And A Half Years | Etcetera Theatre | 28 -30 Dec
I love that I picked out three shows for this edition that all have seven(ty) in the title, and that all three are referring to years. So I made it into its own section. This one's a brilliant autobiographical one man musical that we came across a couple of years back at the ye olde edfringe, and we interviewed its creator Mark Gledhill about it in 2022, so read that for a lot of insight into what to expect from the show and head to this page here to book tickets.

Our 1972 | The Hope Theatre | 3-6 Jan
"Andy wanted to be top of his class this year. Ben wanted to be LSE's star cricketer. Both wanted to listen to Carole King records. Neither expected to be part of the movement that pioneered the first Gay Pride in London". A debut run for this play by Josh Maughan produced by award winners Springbok, which is a political romance that explores the turning points of the LGBT movement and pays tribute to the activists of the 1970s. More here.

1979 | Finborough Theatre | 2-27 Jan (pictured)
"In May 1979, Progressive Conservative Joe Clark was elected as Canada's youngest ever Prime Minister. By Christmas 1979, it looked as though it was all over. Faced with a critical decision, his colleagues - including his predecessor Pierre Trudeau - take the opportunity to steer him in completely different directions..." Another throwback to seventies politics, in the shape of a fast paced political comedy. Click here.


MORE JANUARY STUFF>>

Engine Room: Next Page | Omnibus Theatre | 3-13 Jan
There's something of a 'new stuff' theme to this last section this time, which seems rather appropriate, given that it's all happening at the start of the new year. First up a whole season of plays in development, written by new and upcoming writers. I read through all the different plays and they all sound really good, and they have a wide range of themes, so I thought it best if you just have a look at the listings here, and decide which suit you the most. Yay.

Deadheads | Old Red Lion Theatre | 3-6 Jan
Next up, a new play by Maddie Lynes, produced by Three Sisters, that explores the struggle of loving someone whilst also allowing them to grow and change. "Miriam works in finance in Singapore. Jade is settling into post-uni life while working in a London cafe. The sisters haven't spoken in two years. But when their mum finally remarries, they are forced back into orbit, in order to pack up their home side by side". Info here.

Exhibitionists | King's Head Theatre | 5 Jan-10 Feb (pictured)
And finally, it's a new thing that feels like quite a big new thing, for this is the first ever show to take place in the new King's Head Theatre venue, and it's a world premiere, which is lovely. 'Exhibitionists' is set in the San Francisco art world and explores themes of love, sex, happiness and freedom, and is co-written by Olivier nominee Shaun McKenna and journalist Andrew Van Sickle, making his playwriting debut. Details here.
At TW:CULTURE we champion the best in fringe theatre, comedy and culture.

Year round, we pick the best shows happening in London and online each week, providing handy Three To See recommendations and interviewing the people behind those productions.

Plus each summer we also cover the biggest cultural event in the world: The Edinburgh Festival.


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