I am SUCH a Christmas groupie; even Mariah doesn’t have anything on me. THAT’S how festive I am. Sadly, unlike Mariah, I cannot afford to have my own personal reindeers flown in for the season. However, I CAN (just about) afford a bunch of tickets to, what is, a fantastic festive season of plays, cabaret and musical mayhem on the London stages this month.
I have tickets to most of what is on my top ten for this month already. And I am trying – desperately – to find room on the calendar and funds in the bank to buy tickets for the rest. So, look no further if you want to know what the best shows are to see this month.
Starting off with one of the LEAST Christmas-sy shows in the list but certainly one of the most exciting. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was originally a book by Neil Gaiman that follows an unnamed man who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remember events that began 40 years earlier. It’s a magical study of childhood and self-identity. And achingly bittersweet in its nostalgia and reminisces. And fantastic in its imagination. Fingers crossed this stage adaptation excites and thrills those of us brave enough to face its hidden depths. Obviously, I already have my ticket. Runs 3 December to 25 January. Tickets from £15.
The mighty Sink the Pink are returning for the second of their queer Christmas Trilogy and the drag queens are going to space in a camp sci-fi b-movie adventure. It’s 2050 and in a galaxy not too far from our own, Planet Trash is the most dangerous place in the solar system. But it is suddenly facing a new danger: an impending solar flare that threatens to obliterate it. All that stands between Planet Trash and complete annihilation is a crack team of unlikely queer space explorers. Can they escape the planet before it explodes, can they find the weapon and disarm it, and will they make it home for Christmas? Expect glam, fashion, lip-synching and all the joy possible. I’m already booked! Open now and runs to 22 December. Tickets from £20 (concessions available).
Impossible to ignore a new play from Mike Bartlett (Charles III, Doctor Foster) so let’s get to the Kiln for the London debut of this critically acclaimed festive hit, an epic story about generational conflict, fathers and daughters, and whether we’re living in the best or worst of times… ‘Because Christmas. Well… That’s when they say people come home.’ Ah, Christmas. A wonderful time and a difficult time and that’s exactly what Mike’s set up is here with an expected Christmas reconciliation between an estranged father and daughter. And with feminism and Brexit in the air as well, this reconciliation will not be easy. Runs 10 December to 25 January. Tickets from £10.
The formidable duo that is Sh!t Theatre are back with their 2019 festive offering – Sh!t Actually. What is it? A 100% faithful, word-by-word* remake of the Christmas film we all hate to love: Love Actually. (*Just kidding.) With live songs, queer love stories, and politics questioned by women with ACTUAL. LINES. Come shout-along, sing-along, dance-along, cry-along, drink-along to this adults-only celebration of Christmas Actually. But if you think this’ll all be laughs and giggles, you don’t know Sh!t Theatre. Expect some pretty probing questions on how problematic this film is amongst all the revelry. Should be interactive, unique and brilliant. And, much like the duo themselves, soon to be iconic. Runs 3 to 21 December. Tickets from £15 (concessions available).
“I love love love my digital body because having a body that can go everywhere is just the hottest thing.” This looks FASCINATING. And bitingly contemporary. As The Stage says, “experimental playwright Eve Leigh is becoming an increasingly intriguing voice in UK theatre,” and in this new play Eve invites us to interrogate the opportunities and costs of being Extremely Online where, in the same moment, you could catch glimpses of protest marches, suicides, nudity and banality. If the possibilities are truly endless, where are our limits? I already have my ticket. Runs 27 November to 21 December. Tickets from £15 (concessions available).
Breach Theatre wowed with their last production, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True, and now the dynamic and ambitious company is back at the NDT with a new Christmas show based on the bizarre and rather miraculous true story of a nun on the run. You see, back in the 14th century, there was a Sister Joan in a Yorkshire convent who started seeing “unholy visions.” Basically, lots of sex and serpents. Causes a scandal, obvs. But in this new production, our Joan is determined to spread her new carnal creed… even if it means getting a little creative. Runs 3 to 21 December. Tickets from £16 (concessions available).
To say I am excited to see this would be a whopping understatement. This production of Jackie Sibblies-Drury’s Pulitzer Prize winning play promises to be something very special. At its heart is a radical examination of power and power structures. Not that you could guess that from its disarmingly routine set up – a middle-class mother is trying to arrange a birthday party for her own mother but her kids and husband aren’t being that helpful and with Grandma now locking herself in the toilet, it could all become a mishap. But if think a standard sit-com is what the audience is here for, think again. Think the hell again. I HAVE MY TICKET! Runs 28 November to 18 January. Tickets from £15.
‘Tis the season for D-listers in pantomimes – but not so at The Jamie Lloyd Company as the much-acclaimed director has cornered A-lister (and long-time collaborator) James McAvoy to lead the company of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, freely adapted by Martin Crimp. And that is quite a heady combination, for sure. Of course, our hero is fierce with a pen and notorious in combat but cannot catch the eye of his one true love as he has a nose as huge as his heart. Will a society engulfed by narcissism get the better of De Bergerac or can his mastery of language set Roxane’s world alight? With Crimp in charge of the adaptation, I’m expecting this to be dark gallows humour all over. Should be great. And VERY popular. Runs 27 November to 29 February. Tickets from £15.
Like many of the hard-working creatives in theatre, I have loved and admired writer Matilda Ibini for a long time. She’s brilliantly talented and a visionary with a wicked sense of humour so it’s a THRILL to be able to include her latest in this list (and kudos – AGAIN – to the Bunker for platforming), Little Miss Burden, a coming-of-age tale that smashes together 90s nostalgia, Nigerian family, East London and Sailor Moon to tell the sometimes tricky, often funny truth about growing up with a physical impairment. I HAVE MY TICKET ALREADY! Runs 3 to 21 December. Tickets from £10 (concessions available).
I love cabaret and performance artist, Lucy McCormick but, I tell you now, she ain’t for the faint-hearted. Some consider her avant-garde; others find her vulgar. Frankly, she is both and she is extraordinary. So, yup, I already have my ticket! Quite what I’m in for, who knows? But though specifics may be vague – our Lucy is crawling “through the annals of history in this enthusiastically humiliating exploration of power and purpose” – I’m here for the dance, songs and absurdist art. And Christmas fun, fun, fun. Runs 3 to 14 December. Tickets from £14.