It’s officially December (apparently – has anyone really been keep track since March?) The recent news that Brighton and Hove has now exited Lockdown 2 and entered into Tier 2 has given a green light to socially distanced live performances in the city. So, wrap up warm and venture out to enjoy some of these festive treats whilst you still can.
Socially distanced live performances are back on the cards in Brighton and Hove
Unfestive, but unfortunately necessary reminder: Be sure to check in with each individual venue for their Covid-19 requirements, and be aware that shows may be affected by any change in government policy. Phew, now on to the fun.
2020 has been a year for all kind of new and strange experiences, although can watching Netflix in your pants be considered new and strange? With outdoor venues seeing increased interest, Brighton’s very own Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT) is taking advantage by staging their very first Christmas season. After having to start their summer season late, they extended into the autumn with Halloween shows timed to coincide with the delayed Brighton Fringe and are now foraying for the first time into winter.
Socially distant and outdoors sounds as Covid-safe as can be, although audiences are strongly recommended to wrap up warm and dress for all weathers (there’s a reason why they usually only open during the summer). BOAT's staging of The Snow Queen has already sold out, so you’d better hurry if you’d like to book tickets for Hansel and Gretel? A Postmodern Pantomime. Putting a modern twist on the traditional panto, you can expect musical numbers from Cardi B to Kate Bush and even a rapping dragon. The recommended age is anyone 8+ and BOAT also promise to transform their (already very beautiful) venue into a festive paradise with cosy fire pits and Christmas trees to get you into the seasonal spirit.
If you’re the old-fashioned type who prefers Christmas pudding over a Chocolate Bombe this time of year, then Ropetackle Arts Centre’s Oh Yes It Is – A Family Christmas Adventure might be just the traditional fare you’re hankering after. The cast might have been scaled back, but this whirlwind tour of panto-land looks to be filled with fun.
Another show that’s bound to delight children is The Littlest Christmas Elf. This story of Pip, an elf who needs help whilst working in Santa’s workshop, will be brought to life through puppetry and interactive drama.
If you’re looking for a seasonal showstopper, then A Christmas Carol is certain to be the pick for you. This popular show makes its return to The Spire, an incredibly atmospheric (and notoriously airy) former church on the edge of Kemptown. Previous shows (including Frankenstein and Dracula) have been blockbuster successes and, with the terrifically talented Gary Sefton once again at the helm, A Christmas Carol is a sure fire bet. However, book quickly as, even with two shows daily, their limited capacity and towering reputation mean tickets are selling like hot cakes.
You wait all year and then suddenly two versions of A Christmas Carol come along at once! Brighton Dome is also presenting their take on perhaps the most beloved Christmas tale of all time. Narrated by star of stage and screen Harriet Walter (recently seen as Dasha in Killing Eve), this musically inspired version will be accompanied by BPO Brass Quintet and features arrangements of classic carols such as I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In and Coventry Carol.
It’s a predictable as turkey for Christmas dinner: year after year, in households up and down the country, there’s a seasonal standoff over the remote. One person wants to watch Elf, another wants to watch Miracle on 34th Street and someone else keeps on insisting Die Hard is a Christmas film. Many of us can be surprisingly passionate when it comes to picking our favourite Christmas films, and the same is true for comedian and film fanatic Aidan Goatley, who presents Twelve Films of Christmas at Sweet Venues. After receiving five stars Broadway Baby for a previous show, 10 Films With My Dad, this jovial run through Goatley’s top 12 Christmas films will be a winner for any movie buffs out there.
For those of you on the naughty list this year, there’s Imaginary Porno Charades: Christmas Special. Bringing an hour of rude and adult panel show mayhem to Sweet Venues, it might not be the high brow choice, but if you’re up for potentially ruining treasured memories of playing charades with your nan this could be up your street.
And finally, if you’re uninterested in the usual festive programming then Landmines at The Lantern Theatre offers something completely different. Containing very strong language, references to drug use, sexual activity and violence, Landmines is the story of Vida, a woman who embarks on a mission to confront fascism and bigotry after a politician is murdered in her hometown.
After one of the hardest years for the arts, it’s a testament to the resilience of an industry bound by the motto “the show must go on” to see so many performances programmed again this Christmas.