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Another Night Before Christmas review at Bridge House Theatre, London – ‘heartfelt’

George Maguire and Rachael Woodin in Another Night Befor Christmas at Brideg House Theatre, London. Photo: Robert Workman
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It’s Christmas Eve, and a jaded social worker is about to have her festive spirit kick-started by a delusional homeless man who just might be the real Santa Claus.

With book and lyrics by Sean Grennan, Another Night Before Christmas has more in common with Anthony Neilson’s irreverent version than with the beloved Clement Moore poem. Mistaken for a burglar, Santa is tied to a chair. There’s a memorable song about murdering Bing Crosby.

For all that, the tone is silly and sentimental. Director Guy Rettalack keeps the performers bouncing around the intimate space, but cannot free them from some painfully repetitive dialogue. Occasional voiceovers from notable West End performers only seem to increase the monotony.

George Maguire is a puckish young Kris Kringle, sporting a man bun and a jacket stained with reindeer dung. Channelling the bombastic delivery of David Tennant and the singing voice of Mike Patton, he is charismatic and irrepressible. Rachael Wooding is believably practical as Carole, exhausted but unwilling to turn her uninvited guest out into the cold. An emotive singer with an impressive range, she nevertheless struggles to project over Leah Okimoto’s swinging, jazzy score.

Martin Bristow’s lighting is simple and effective, featuring frosty blue washes and a perfectly timed surge of twinkling lights which underscores a particularly heartfelt moment.

While the plot is as formulaic as they come, the show is full of good cheer. Moreover, it raises meaningful points about mental health and homelessness as it coasts towards its joyful conclusion.

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Verdict
Warm-hearted, low-key musical that feels festive but over-familiar
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