Last Christmas, while some were too wilfully distributing their heart to potential partners, the Old Fire Station were producing an almighty festive hit. Thirty Christmases proved a great proposition and has now moved from the dreaming spires of
Working Christmas takes place in an
The strength of this production is in the two comedians at its core, Omar Ibrahim and Joanna Neary. When we first arrive in the auditorium (the remnants of a particularly good Christmas party already on stage) Jo is milling about attempting to coax us in to some interval karaoke. The performers then introduce themselves and it is clear they have a natural ease in front of the audience, gleaned from careers in stand-up comedy. It is a shame they have to jump into their characters as Working Christmas is at its best when they are interacting with us. Yet their characters are engaging, with Jo's enthusiasm playing nicely off of Omar's pessimism. They are a likeable pair both in and out of character. Could the Old Fire Station please book them for stand-up in the new year?
The central issue I had with Working Christmas was that it didn't engage with the genuinely interesting topic of working over Christmas. The play highlights the issue of working over the period but doesn't quite drill into this. There is an early exchange revolving around the discovery of a copy of a particularly disreputable newspaper that crackles with tension, showing that when the writers want to they can really drill down into the issues of today's society. I particularly enjoyed the song that returned to this topic and it shows what the play could have been before it got bogged down in some unnecessary plot contrivances in the second half.
But this is a funny, often charming piece, propelled by two talented performers. It doesn't delve too much into the subject raised but it is a fun hour and a half of theatre that perfectly fits the season. By the end you'll be singing along with the characters and leaving with a smile on your face.