Another Night Before Christmas review at Bridge House Theatre, London – ‘heartfelt’
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.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.