Reviewed By Zuzi Fort
Season: 23rd November - 8th December 2018
Fri at 7.30pm, Sat 11am & 3pm, Sun at 4.30pm
Running Time: 75mins, including a 15 min interval
All tickets only $20!
420 Kent st
Sydney, Australia 2000
Are you a why-and-what-kind-of person? Do you ponder the meaning of life? Do you have an enquiring mind? Do you ask philosophical questions that no one seems to think of, or care about? Do you wonder how does the Easter bunny lay the Easter eggs? Why does the tooth fairy want our teeth? And of course, the big one: What does Santa do the rest of the year?
If this sounds like you, then you must see Genesian Theatre’s latest production “What Santa Does Other Days of the Year”. Based on a book written by Roger Gimblett with music by Sally Bodkin-Allen and directed by Shane Bates, this play is sure to delight everyone.
In fact, I have decided to put the theatre’s claim that it’s sure to delight anyone from 9 to 99 years of age to the test. I brought along my cheeky 4-year-old daughter, my wild 7-year-old nephew, my 10-year-old niece and my 15-year-old know-it-all daughter. We left grandma at home; she wouldn’t fit in the car.
How did my experiment go? Beyond expectations! One and all sat mesmerised and involved, laughing (at times like hyenas) and following the characters’ every word. And that, in today’s age of unfocused mobile phone-obsessed youth is quite a success.
So, what makes this play so great? Well, it’s pretty much everything. Starting with a beautiful and intimate venue (and what better place to stage a Christmas play than in an old church), the simple but beautifully designed set, to the characters’ simple yet effective costumes; it all comes together. You walk in and place your backside in a cushy seat, the stained glass windows allow enough light to create a magical ambience as soft Christmas songs play on the speakers. Then, the lights dim and a head pops out between the red curtains. Red cheeks, big pointy ears, and a welcoming smile… It’s Alf the Elf welcoming the audience to the North Pole.
Reminiscent of Danny Kaye with a slightly over-the-top stylized delivery that is just right, the Elf struggles with a pesky spotlight and an even more troublesome lighting person. Alf, wonderfully portrayed by Tristan Black sets the scene. Akin to traditional Christmas pantomimes full of puns, slapstick jokes and an open dialogue with the audience Alf is a highlight of the show. That is not to say that the other characters aren’t necessary. In fact, they complement Alf to a T. One pompous and one lovestruck and mischievous reindeer, along with Ms Calendar and of course, Mrs Santa and Santa himself are all essential to the narrative, as is the downtrodden stagehand that plays his part with dedication. Mrs Santa, played by Melanie Robinson provides a beautiful balance in her tender natural and believable depiction of her character.
What’s the story? Well, let me not spoil it for you but something is brewing at the North Pole, and it has the reindeer up in arms, and everything is somehow off-kilter thanks to Santa’s surprising decision. Will Christmas be saved? Will the reindeer fly again? Will Alf ever stop making jokes? You just have to find out for yourself.
I guarantee that you will enjoy yourself as you sit there transported to a happier time of childhood wonder, your toes will not stop tapping during the lovely songs accompanied by live piano music.
And the final rendition of Silent Night will remind you, as you look around at the faces of your loved one and everyone else, what Christmas is all about. And of course, the bag of lollies handed out to everyone at the end doesn’t hurt one bit.