04 January 2011

Get Santa by Anthony Neilson

Teddy - Bill Buckhurst
Holly - Imogen Doel
Bumblehole - Tom Godwin
Gran - Amanda Hadingue
Barbara - Gabriel Quigley
Santa - David Sterne
Bernard - Robert Stocks
Puppeteer - Chan Martinez

On the big stage at the Royal Court with music by Nick Powell and the designer was Mirium Buether. They were giving seats away for this and probably with good reason. Celebrities in the audience were Stephen Tomkinson and Dawn Steele.

Written for children 7 year-old and older, Get Santa! follows a ten-year old girl, Holly, in her quest to find the perfect family, meeting a host of weird and wonderful characters along the way.

First of all, I should say that I probably chose my seat unwisely. This would have been much better from the front of the dress circle where the Wild At Heart stars were lucky enough to be seated. The design was a joyful thing from the very start as the stage opens like a great bit present. There were some simple special effects that were carried off well and the puppeteer did a good job. I particularly liked his outfit camouflaging all but his face with the frenetic wallpaper. The structure of the story was sweet and simple enough for any seven year old audience to engage with but not be bored by.

For the first time I can ever remember, I was unable to return after the interval. In fact, I raced out of my seat as soon as the curtain went down. I had prepared myself for children chatting and kicking me in the back, making rhythmic noises to sooth themselves through their boredom. I had not prepared myself, given my love for this space, for the almost inaudible screeching from certain areas of the cast. I know I wasn't the target audience and that they were pantomiming it up but it was more than I could tolerate. I am sure many children found it a refreshing change from Cinderella and as far as I could tell, there was no awful audience participation but it grated like a rusty knife through my eardrums.