Theatre reviews: The Night After Christmas; Morgan & West: A (sort of) Christmas Carol Magic Show

The Night After Christmas
Left to Right Rosalind Sydney and Mary Gapinski The Night After Christmas.JPG
The Night After Christmas Left to Right Rosalind Sydney and Mary Gapinski The Night After Christmas.JPG
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THEATRE

The Night After Christmas

Tron Theatre, Glasgow

JJJJ

Morgan & West: A (sort of) Christmas Carol Magic Show!

Festival Square Theatre, 
Edinburgh

JJJ

Much is made of the night before Christmas, with many a children’s show tapping into the excitement of waiting for Santa to arrive. So it’s unusual to find a production which focuses on the big man’s post-delivery comedown. Not that we see much of him in the Tron Theatre’s charming new show for younger audiences, The Night After Christmas – he’s tucked up in bed snoring.

Instead, we’re entertained by two excitable chefs charged with the task of creating Santa’s “night after Christmas feast”. Lisa Keenan’s simple narrative uses few words but embellishes them with a plethora of slapstick and physical theatre (which she also directs) to create a show aimed at 3-6-year-olds that squarely hits its target.

Designer Kirsty McCabe’s vibrant kitchen set bursts with fruits, vegetables, cakes and cooking paraphernalia – all of which performers Rosalind Sydney and Mary Gapinski put to good use. The pair are never less than captivating, and their young audience rewards them with full attention for the show’s 45 minute length, after which they’re invited on stage for a play themselves.

A participatory rhyme about chopping and stirring gets an airing more times than you can remember (a pudding that is possibly over-egged) but it’s a minor grumble in a show that is as energetic and fun 
as the tots it was designed for.

Comic magicians (or should that be magic comedians) Morgan and West have a more difficult task, pitching their show at all-comers. Aimed at ages 5+, but inevitably attracting everyone from babes in arms to grandparents, A (sort of) Christmas Carol Magic Show needs to have something for everyone – and it pretty much does.

The pair call themselves “time-travellers and all round spiffing chaps”, and it’s hard to disagree. Dressed in smart Victorian garb and talking ever so proper, they’re perfectly placed to bring Charles Dickens’ ubiquitous Christmas tale to life. The only trouble is, Rhys Morgan isn’t too sure of the actual storyline and Robert West would far rather do a “real magic show”. Finally, they strike a happy medium (acting out Dickens’ tale, but with some magic thrown in) and after a slightly elongated start, the show builds in both momentum and laughs. The men play off each other beautifully, with West’s mock exasperation and seriousness the perfect foil to Morgan’s boundless capacity for silliness.

A busy stage strewn with shiny festive parcels is soon even busier with fruit, sweeties, chains and more pulled-out of pockets and boxes, as they cleverly interweave tricks and illusions with the narrative.

Younger audience members unfamiliar with the plot may struggle to follow which ghost is visiting Scrooge, when and why, and some jokes will undoubtedly fly over their heads. But the likeability of this dashing duo, and truly impressive sleight of hand magic, will put almost anyone in a good mood.

KELLY APTER

The Night After Christmas ends 31 December; Morgan & West ends 7 January