A theatrical Christmas

Blog by Gareth K Vile | 21 Nov 2008

The Skinny doesn’t sleep over Christmas. While the sensible world tucks into mince-pies, chortles at faded celebrities and shouts at the baddies in pantomimes, our writers have been out in the cold, seeking the difficult and complex, checking up on the avant-garde and patrolling venues' seriousness. Yet the spirit of goodwill cannot be halted: those same Live Artists who terrified us in the summer are now celebrating, directing children’s shows and reminding this editor how experimentation doesn’t have to mean ugly or incomprehensible.

There are plenty of big runs over the holidays, but enough small shows and one-offs to keep things interesting. The Traverse culminates its project with Polmont Young Offenders Institute with Outwrite on 4 December: our roving reporter Agata Maslowska has caught up with this fascinating scheme, and her interview with its coordinator is now online. Forced Entertainment are bringing their mini-Spectacular to Glasgow: this show has polarised critical opinion. FE can be erratic, but are always worth the entrance price, even just to argue about them in the after show bar.

Not everyone shares my dark and experimental tastes – I castigated two much-anticipated shows last month for lacking the sheer monstrosity that their scripts offered – and Christmas entices far more people into the theatre, allowing ambitious and magical productions to thrive. The traditional pantomime is going strong, but the development of new approaches, whether it be the Citizens’ mixed programme of fun or the Lyceum’s CS Lewis fantasia, is a fine indicator of a healthy, adventurous theatre-land.