STAGE REVIEW: Bonnie & Fanny’s Christmas Spectacular @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (02.12.21) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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As the nation slides into ‘plan B,’ rest assured that no matter if we get to plan C, D, or god forbid Z, there’s one Christmas party that always goes ahead, one blazing light that never goes out. 

The last time I found myself at Bonnie & Fanny’s Christmas Spectacular was in December 2019, a more innocent time. Back then, I left near-begging for the show to return.

Since then, lockdowns eased, Bonnie and the Bonnettes returned to audiences with Drag Me to Love, Your Aunt Fanny delivered an outdoor show and seven-part podcast series, and the office party from hell is back.

Superficially the same show, the Spectacular has received a booster shot of Covid-relevant bits and been polished to within an inch of its life. 

The plot, hinging on an email mishap, is scant and deftly irrelevant, a backdrop for clockwork-precision sketches and seriously great dance numbers. 

Lydia Brickland pulls off the thankless task of making us feel sympathy for office middle manager Kim. Corporate exterior cracking as the Christmas crisis escalates, Brickland lands one of the show’s biggest laughs with a sustained bit of comedy that has to be seen to be believed. 

By turns put upon and primal self unleashed, Lorraine’s glorious emancipation from office drudgery is a room-filling performance from Hattie Eason, a showcase for her singing and dancing talent.

Back at Live soon after a stellar turn in Cheer Up Slug, Jackie Edwards remains a masterful physical comic, blazingly energetic throughout as foul-mouthed Carol, one half of a cockle-warming romantic comedy.

Brogan Gilbert’s Penny is the Gen Z office junior, and no one (including her) knows what her job is. One of those performers with the power to be funny doing nothing at all, the show is worth seeing for Gilbert’s remarkable facial comedy alone.

Seasoned DJ and ‘Nappa veteran Stacey is the rock on which the party rests. Relentlessly cheerful and never one to let a good tune go to waste, Glendenning is full of heart as the show’s emotional anchor.

A deliciously deadpan and ice-cold Matilda Neill wins us over with a redemption arc for Ivy is the office meanie played out in the office loos, her heart melting—a bit—throughout the show as the office Scrooge. 

For Holly, Christmas lasts all year long, and all she wants is for everyone to enjoy themselves. The office mam who everyone equally kind of fancies and feels sorry for, Holly is brought vividly to life by a glowing, irrepressible Katy Powell. 

Too big for Coronation Street and too glam for Broadway, Cameron Sharp infuses age-undisclosed office veteran Lynne with warmth and wit, displaying masterful comic timing throughout.

Complemented by clever lighting and sound design, the sparse set gets out of the way, ceding the floor to a Christmas buffet (a proper good Marksies one) of unforgettable performances.

Cathartic, irreverent, and full of heart, Bonnie & Fanny’s Christmas Spectacular is a lightning-in-a-bottle mashup of some of the hottest comedic talent in the region.

Everything I’d hoped for and more, I’m asking Santa for a sequel this time.

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