For those who dare, it’s a cracker, though, the infectious enthusiasm of a foursome whose patter is slick and whose voices combine beautifully to run through everywhere from the little town of Bethlehem to Kingston Market. It’s more cabaret than play, although there’s a gossamer-thin plotline about the Plaids, a 50s singing group whose big break never happened because a school bus collision sent them to heaven, from which they’ve returned for one night only to mount the Christmas Show they’d always dreamed of.
There’s a strong hint of the kind of family Christmas show that used to draw 20 million audiences when there were only three TV channels, and Perry Como, the charm king of the genre, makes a personal appearance, by video link, for a very funny sequence when the Plaids provide his backing vocals. And charm and very funny are the key words in passing the news about this unique show.
It’s an audience pleaser from open to close, and inventive in playing with and deconstructing songs the audience knows so well it’s humming long before the participation sections begin. Day-O or Excelsis Deo? Isn’t Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer one of the saddest songs ever written, about a bunch of mean reindeer that Rudolf really shouldn’t help out of their fog-bound hole?
All four singers – Alex Broome, Joshua Da Costa, Kris Marc-Joseph and Laurie Denman (who also hits the piano) – bring energy, commitment and fun to the stage, and the arrangements give all a chance to shine alone in a perfect piece of ensemble playing.
It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of eggnog, but anyone looking to walk out of a theatre after two hours in a warm nostalgic fuggy glow and a very good mood should love it.
PLAID TIDINGS by Stuart Ross
Directed by Guy Retallack
Presented by Bridge House Productions
Bridge House Theatre, Penge, 26 November to 23 December 2018
Box Office: www.ticketsource.co.uk/bridgehousetheatrese20/ phone: 020 8133 0311
Reviewer David Weir’s plays include: Confessional (Oran Mor, Glasgow) and Better Together (Brockley Jack, London).
‘An audience pleaser from open to close’
If there’s a show that packs in more Christmas songs this festive season than Plaid Tidings, it’ll need a running time of about two weeks. Whether you love this or not very much depends on how you feel about two hours in the company of men in loud tartan suits singing 50s classics in four-part harmony.