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Christmas Dinner ****

Michael Cox reviews a Christmas love letter to theatre.

It’s Christmas 2021. The hardships with COVID still linger, and all stage manager Lesley wants for Christmas is to be left alone. However, the Lyceum Theatre itself has other ideas...

Christmas Dinner is many things, including being a festive pleasure that’s an enjoyable family romp. But what writer Robert Alan Evans and director Gill Robertson have really created is a wonderous love letter to the power of live theatre—so sorely missed over the last year and a half. The play is a celebration of the theatrical, from inside jokes to the importance of storytelling.

Which is what makes Christmas Dinner such a treat. It packs a lot into its short 75-minute running time: farce, musical numbers, gags and outlandish characters but with a dash of genuine sorrow. There might not be anything that’s overtly original, but that isn’t the point—the show wears its heart on its sleeve, showing audiences how important the communal experience of theatre is.

As I write this (Sunday, December 12th) the news is filled with a lot of gloom. Politics is imploding (more so than usual, which is saying something) and a new COVID variant is rapidly making the immediate future look uncertain. Already there’s news of one Christmas show that has shut, and there may be more—particularly as the Scottish government is asking for parties to be culled. With all of this, there are many ‘Lesleys’ in the world who are rightfully scared and feel optimism dwindling.

So how nice it is to have a joyful reminder of the power found in theatrical magic. May its sincere message ring loud and clear.

Christmas Dinner performs at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh until January 2, 2022.

Photo © Mihaela Bodlovic

Tags: theatre

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