As regular readers will know, I’m a huge Scrooge when it comes to pantomimes, so I tend to avoid the theatre around the Christmas season. However, Arts at the Old Fire Station seem to cater to people like me, and their Christmas show, although silly, always avoids the extreme panto-version of Christmas. Instead they always show a warm-hearted comedy that’s much more likely to make the audience tear up as it is to make you come up on stage to banter with a man wearing enormous fake breasts.
Working Christmas is the story of Jo and Omar, a tale of an unlikely friendship struck up between a Daily Mail-reading temporary cleaner and a Muslim Oxford student, during a strange night, late after a boozy Oxford Christmas party. Omar is locked in a trunk, passed out on spiked cranberry juice, while Jo is grateful that the mess left over from the party is mainly beer cans and tinsel and not vomit.
The Old Fire Station has put on Working Christmas to follow up from 2016’s excellent Thirty Christmases, also written by Jonny Donahoe and James Rowland. This means that we’re assured of a show studded with tongue-in-cheek pastiches of traditional Christmas songs, fast-paced satirical comedy, and an undercurrent of love and loss that’ll leave the audience feeling slightly weepy. Omar Ibrahim and Joanna Neary deliver on the promise of the play with a warm-hearted performance that sets the Christmas season off to a perfect start.
Without any preachiness, Working Christmas offers a perfect antidote to 2017 – a tale of healing, a tale of understanding someone with whom you might never normally cross paths. Once again, Donahoe and Rowland have managed to capture the real meaning of Christmas. Perfect. ★★★★★ @BookingAround 8th December 2017