Leeds-based Slung Low have a reputation for creating theatrical adventures in unusual places. Their Christmas special for over-sevens has families join a frantic route march all over the Barbican Centre, in a bid to foil a professor bent on seasonal sabotage.
A scene from 59 Minutes To Save Christmas at the Barbican, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
Audience members embarking on this mission against the clock are kitted out with headphones - a high-tech touch that has a pleasingly anti-panto effect: there’s no need for anyone to shout. So while we shuffle along in the performers’ wake as the newest recruits in the Royal Christmas Brigade, the bustle of the Barbican foyer adds to the drama. Children focused on their instructions to create inspiring decorations to win over Fairy Lala at the top of a very tall Christmas tree, or caper excitedly after pink clouds of Professor Meanwood’s Christmas-spirit-sapping potion (played by dry ice), also delight in being part of a wider spectacle.
The public looks on as a remote-controlled-Christmas tree exits through the cafe pursued, then wrestled to the ground, by a hapless footsoldier in a bauble-festooned uniform. Everyone stops to listen as the children serenade a confused snowman with a lusty round of Jingle Bells. Fast-paced, innovative and utterly involving, this is immersive theatre in its purest form.