Thirty Christmases at the Old Fire Station, Oxford

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AHA! Finally, a Christmas show that I can get behind. Not a pantomime dame in sight, extremely minimal audience participation (and I was in the front row!), and a perfect blend of laughter and thoughtfulness to get the holidays off to a great start.

Thirty Christmases is a warm and very funny play, in which brother and sister, Jonny and Rachel, (and their friend, Paddy) tell the story of their family and their Christmases. This is the perfect show for the Old Fire Station, who unite their commitment for arts within the community with the work they do for Crisis, the homeless charity. Jonny and Rachel’s story is not one of an idealised TV family celebrating a traditional Christmas, but of a nomadic childhood with their socialist, anarchist father who would take them to spend Christmas with various friends (and sometimes strangers), until the year that he wasn’t there anymore.

This is a story about tradition, about family and friendship, and how people cope with what life throws at them. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, and interspersed with hilarious musical interludes (I swear I’m never going to be able to get ‘Reindeer Sex’ out of my head. Thanks, guys.), but deals equally well with the poignancy of children coming to terms with massive shifts in their lives. Jonny Donahoe’s clever scripting ensures that the story, while moving, doesn’t become maudlin, Rachel Parris is an expert at throwing one-liners which never fails to send the audience into giggles, and Paddy Gervers has an unparalleled enthusiasm for getting us all involved in a good singalong. Another chorus of ‘Don’t be a Prick at Christmas’? Don’t mind if I do!     ★★★★★   @BookingAround   16th December 2016