Get Santa! Royal Court Theatre, London

4.00

This reviewer once wrote that "Anthony Neilson and fun-for-all-the-family Christmas cheer go together about as amicably as the Val Doonican Songbook and Irvine Welsh." Just consider Relocated, his last venture at the Royal Court, which chillingly raised the spectre of Josef Fritzl and his cellar of horrors. So Neilson is somewhat incongruous casting as author of this venue's first ever Yuletide show for children. In the event, he's turned up trumps with Get Santa!, a hilariously inventive and unconventional extravaganza which, with its time-warp antics, suggests that it's a mercy Christmas comes but once a year.

Its heroine is Holly, a lippy, determined ten-year-old, beautifully portrayed in all her stroppiness and vulnerability by Imogen Doel. The one thing on her Christmas wish list is to find her real father, a desire that's all the more understandable given that her stepdad is a dog. Each year Santa has failed to deliver, so this time she plots to trap him when he comes down the chimney. She winds up instead with his son and helper, Tom Godwin's farcically hapless elf, Bumblehole. When a bungled spell brings to life Holly's Teddy, the audience melts at the adorable spectacle (the excellent puppetry is by Chand Martinez). But talking Teddy is not entirely to be trusted and to keep him alive Holly is repeatedly forced to pluck magic hairs from Santa's beard to reverse time and create a perpetually recurring Christmas.

The Groundhog Day horror of the situation (giving and receiving pile-ups of identical gifts in an ever blearier atmosphere of desperate merriment) is a hoot in the author's vivid, stylish production which is itself designed like a huge, lurid pink present. Nick Powell's musical score includes mock-heroically cheery jingles that parody the clichés of Christmas (sung by a chorus in ludicrously festive knitwear) and witty, gently moralising numbers which address the underlying issues, such as the need to respect human oddity and not think oneself the centre of the universe. The show is full of eccentric delights, from David Sterne's grouchy Santa (who, on his reluctant way to Scotland, inquires "Is the body armour packed?") to Robert Stocks's endearingly canine step dad who dresses the Christmas tree with strips of meat because he can't eat chocolate. Warmly recommended.

To 15 January (020 7565 5000)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen