REVIEW: Carols and Cocktails @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle (14.12.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas shows. I like cocktails though and, with the promise of being able to win one, I ventured down to this musical play written by Ben Dickenson and directed by Ali Pritchard. In it, we follow two mismatched and completely cringe-inducing friends from an IT department as they play some songs at the office Christmas do. There’s Phil (Lawrence Neale), the slightly racist, wannabe ladies’ man who will be spending the holiday with his gran and no one else. There’s also John (John Dalziel), an absolute flannel of a human being, who at times is so pathetic he walks a thin line between utter tragedy and total un-lovability.

The gig seems to be going great, until we see them both backstage and learn the depressing truth beneath each of their happy-go-lucky façades. In an area of the City where every theatre is cashing in on flashy, vapid pantos with 3D glasses and endless jokes about bottoms, I’ve got the upmost respect for Carols and Cocktails. In truth, it did feel at times that these revelations could have been explored a bit more. But equipped with a ukulele and a battered piano, Phil and John managed to capture the feeling of Christmas being a time, more than any other, when we ignore the problems in our life and put on an act.

It’s a lot to ask from a Christmas musical which, in the end, is still there to make people smile. Emotional confessions are punctuated with ramshackle singalongs a-plenty and, through the medium of tambourines, mistletoe and mysterious liquors, the whole audience are invited into the show as well. By the end, Carols and Cocktails got me in the festive spirit more than rolling around in a pile of tinsel with a mouth full of new socks.

Carols and Cocktails continues at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle until Wednesday 23rd December.

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