Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Wicked Christmas 2" - December 2007

Due to a dash for winter sun last year we didn't manage to catch the Citizens Community Company's original "Wicked Christmas" but we had enjoyed February's "My Bloody Valentine" and their involvement in "Ice Cream Dreams". So while Waldorf headed off into the sun once again, I stayed behind to see "Wicked Christmas 2". And I'm really pleased I did.

The show has been put together by Dramaturg Peter Arnott weaving together nine short pieces written by members of the Community Company and he's allowed the individual tales to retain their own identities while setting an even tone for the piece as a whole. Director Neil Packham has also ensured that the cast all cope well with the Circle Studio's intimate in-the-round staging.

I'll pick out some of the highlights, but it's fair to say the performances were universally good, despite a wobble or two. The segments are all well written and for the most part the humour hits the mark, although as with any show with fast paced humour there are some that misfire.

The overarching plot sees Tom Beattie's Santa sending a badly behaved elf (Darren McGarvey) to Glasgow on Christmas Eve to learn about the spirit of Christmas. It's a device that works well, thanks to Beattie's entertaining portrayal of a cursing Santa and McGarvey's charismatic and confident performance.

One of the main threads of the show involves Janice (Kirsty McCarter) and Linda (Eleanor Capaldi) as they run a candle stall as part of their 'community service' under the (sometime) supervision of Mr Morgan (Alan Ward). It's a particularly well written series of scenes and all three performances are very strong.

Alan Ward returns later along with Martin O'Neill as a pair of young brothers being given the dreaded knitted jumpers for Christmas. It's wonderfully performed and the characterisation of the brothers is spot-on. O'Neill also puts in an excellent turn as a Taggart-esque detective later in the show.

Katya Silich and Sean Williamson make an amusing sight as they ice dance around the studio (yes really) but while their dialogue has some very funny moments others seem forced. Similarly Lesley Noonan and Jim McCleavy do well with some stilted dialogue, although the concept of a daughter facing a first Christmas without her mother is a good one.

But star turn of the evening belongs to Frances Rose Kelly and Anne Marie McLeod as a pair of Glasgow prostitutes walking the streets. So often these days strong language is overdone, but while extensive here, it's pitched perfectly and the scenes with these two move comfortably between hilarious banter and strong emotional moments.

The elements I've highlighted are simply the ones that held the most appeal for me - I'm sure other audience members will have had their own favourites. Overall, the Community Co has produced a very entertaining show with Glasgow very much at its heart, and tailored very much for its audience. We're already looking forward to seeing what they do in April along with the Citz Young Company in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"

Wicked Christmas 2 runs at the Citizens until Saturday 12th.