Siege of Christmas


Venue:  Contact, Manchester

Dates:  Until 22 December, 1pm and 6.30pm mainly.

Target age:  Families and primary school age.

What’s the story?  Someone has stolen the spirit of Christmas.  Leader of the secret soldiers, Nutcracker, and hapless manager Dan enlist our help to find it.

How is it done? Immersive theatre that uses the whole of the Contact building in a sequence of set pieces performed by the Contact Young Company (this is a company that I really rate, see Shrine of Everyday ThingsHow to be Better, Under the Covers) and coproduced with Slung Low.

What’s good for kids?  It’s really a show for kids, and they are drawn into the story right from the start as the whole production is structured as a quest.  From the moment we are forced out of the building by dancing mince pies, it feels like a series of challenges, and each scene follows the last in a very natural way.  And yet each scene also stands on its own; both the story and performances are very engaging so as to maintain everyone’s attention.  There’s also some effective interaction that works well as a group so that everyone can become involved (dance, rap, cracker jokes and song).

What about adults?  It’s a well put together show with a story line that works for adults too, and a few moments of adult humour (we’re talking about the Christmas cracker here).

What can grown up theatre learn from this? This is how to do immersive theatre.  The building is used in an innovative and effective way so that it becomes a ‘character’ in the play.  Each scene stands in its own right, performances are strong and have their own character, and actors create energy from the start.  And transitions between scenes are brilliant, using clever techniques to maintain the sense of adventure (loved the interaction between Nutcracker and Dan, CCTV, the attack of both mince pies and fairies, and the use of snow).  A beautifully put together show with strong performances.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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