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Dear West End Producer: How do you detox after the festive period?

West End Producer West End Producer. Photo: Matt Crockett
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I, for one, gorge on food over the festive period. Christmas is excuse enough for me to eat anything to excess. “It’s Christmas – so yes, I’ll have another bar of chocolate and slab of cheese, thank you.” Of course I know I shouldn’t – it just means I’ll be forcing my 40in waist into size 38 trousers next year. And that’s not a pretty sight for anyone, dear.

However, this year has been different. I’ve been more conscious of what I’m eating, and even forced myself to exercise. Every day I’ve walked from my living room to the study, to the kitchen and then back to the living room, before climbing upstairs to my sleeping quarters. It has been exhausting. I’ve also been supplementing fattier foods for healthier options. Instead of having six slices of turkey, I merely had five. Instead of full-fat cream, I had half-fat cream. And instead of my usual plate of pigs in blankets, this year I just had the pigs. And did it make any difference? Well, I must say it’s rather amazing that after eating so much, I’m still in shape. Unfortunately, that shape is a potato, but there you go, dear.

In honesty, detoxing isn’t something you should worry about. It’s Christmas – everyone should overindulge, particularly actors who feel the pressure of looking good all year round. I have friends in EastEnders who tell me to watch the show mid-February – you can tell those episodes were filmed over Christmas, as the actors look a little more rotund. It’s all those extra pounds from the turkey and trifle. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing.

But if you seriously want to detox, how should you do it? Stanislavski recommends reading the complete works of Shakespeare while jumping up and down and munching on a stick of celery. As a special treat you can have a carrot after finishing a tragedy, and an avocado after a comedy. And if you manage to understand Coriolanus, you’re even allowed to suck on a square of chocolate (but nobody ever really understands Coriolanus, dear).

No – don’t bother. Christmas was invented by Santa so we can all legally indulge. And you actors and theatre staff out there doing three shows a day don’t need to detox anyway. You’re burning all the excess food off. Besides, you only get to spend one day with your loved ones before galloping back to pantoland to shout in front of needy children – you deserve some treats.

So to you wonderful actors out there performing thrice daily, I say overindulge. Eat that chocolate, devour that mince pie, digest that pint of Baileys. Shows at Christmas can be tough – people with normal jobs get ample time to sit at home and watch Mary telling children to get high on spoonfuls of sugar, while actors are forced to spend every hour shouting and emoting in the cavernous land of pantomime.

Allow me to say bravo to all you actors and theatre staff who worked over the festive period. Particularly those trapped in the Groundhog Day of 15 shows or more a week. And don’t worry about detoxing. You, more than anyone, need to retox, dear.

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