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Get Santa! review at Jerwood Theatre Downstairs Royal Court London

Somewhat surprisingly, Get Santa! marks the Royal Court’s first foray into family Christmas shows and, for the most part, it’s a great success.

Anthony Neilson – not the obvious choice to write a show aimed at seven to 11 year olds – has constructed a delightful anti-Christmas treat in which our heroine, ten-year old Holly, decides to kidnap Santa because he has failed to answer her annual pleas to find her estranged father. With the help of her beloved teddy bear, she constructs a trap and lays in wait.

The first half, in particular, is wonderfully inventive. Laughs come thick and fast against the backdrop of Miriam Buether’s beautiful set, which opens the show wrapped up like a Christmas present. There are some lovely surreal touches – Holly’s stepfather is a dog and her teddy bear comes to life – which allow Neilson’s humour free range. He also cleverly develops the Santa Claus myth – Santa is a title, not a person, and it is his beard (“the greatest beard in all creation”) that gives him his power.

Imogen Doel, playing down in age as Holly, captures a suitably mischievous note, but the evening’s highlights come from her Russian teddy (a puppet operated by Chand Martinez) and Robert Stocks as Bernard, Holly’s dog stepfather, whose ode to meat is one of the evening’s comic high spots.

Nick Powell’s music serves the story well, but doesn’t provide any truly memorable tunes, and the plot starts to sag a little after the interval when Christmas Day repeats itself over and over again. But still, there’s plenty here to keep both children and adults amused.

Production Information

Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court, London, December 1-January 15

Author/director
Anthony Neilson
Producer
English Stage Company
Cast
Imogen Doel, Tom Godwin, David Sterne, Robert Stocks, Bill Buckhurst, Amanda Hadingue, Chand Martinez, Gabriel Quigley
Running time
2hrs 15mins

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Alistair Smith
Alistair Smith is editor of The Stage. Having joined the publication on staff in 2004, he has also held the roles of reporter, news editor, opinion editor, deputy editor and print editor at The Stage and has written for publications ranging from The Guardian to Hello! Magazine. He is also the author of two major industry reports (the London Theatre Report and the Theatre Workforce Review) and a founder of the My Theatre Matters! campaign.
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