Christmas singalong show a mixed bag

The Island Bay Loners' Doomsday Christmas Sing-Along by Alex Lodge, Cherie Jacobson, Edward Watson, directed by Uther Dean

Bats Theatre, Wellington, until December 15

Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson

"Brother, here we go again!" wrote the great Tom Lehrer referring to the all-too-soon recurring Christmas season threatening us once again with its tackiness and ersatz jollity. For a moment at the beginning of Doomsday Christmas, a cheerful if witless romp, it looked as if it was going to be sent up rotten. Unfortunately this didn't occur.

The one character who exhibited some distaste for the seasonal excesses seemed merely bad-tempered and no-one seemed at all upset by the news that the apocalypse, which someone later opines will be the last apocalypse ever, will occur on Christmas Day.

For some reason a singing star, Dame Gloria Gibson, whose old CDs seemed to be owned by all of the young characters' mothers or grandmothers, decides to hold a Christmas Day party in her Island Bay garden. Her guests are an obstreperous lot and not put off, as I was, by her trilling far too many times "Gloria, hosanna in excelsis".

There are Holly and Ivy, tempestuous twins who want to be stars, a couple of feuding but in love with each other Poms who want a white Christmas - and get one, a lugubrious and inept magician who dresses like Alice Cooper and believes magic is not entertainment but art, and an MC who doubles as a butler called But-But. The magician is also celebrating his birthday which may explain his gloominess. Nearly 90 minutes in their company is a long time.

For some occasional audience participation there is a sing-along that includes Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, White Christmas, and Walking in a Winter Wonderland as well as I saw Mummy Kissing the Kirkcaldie Santa Claus. At the start But-But sings John Key's Last Christmas with a glove puppet John Key at which the audience roared with excessive laughter. Later, however, for a brief shining moment the show took off with some nippy choreography and genuine skill and joie de vivre when the cast burst into Jingle Bells. But by then it was too late.

The Dominion Post