Whilst the theatres in Cardiff do South Wales proud with their family productions at Christmas time, there is something wonderful The Other Room achieve each year. The year sees Flossy and Boo at The Other Room with their festive offering.
The Alternativity is the perfect escape at Christmas, if you’re absorbed in the chaos of Christmas this is a glorious slap in the face of the worst and the best bits. Fortunately, as it’s true, you do leave with a renewed enthusiasm to keep all the best elements, and remember you’re not alone for the more questionable.Flossy and Boo are completely at home in the space at The Other Room. Achieved through Bethany Seddon’s design which sees Christmas poured over the space. This includes wonderful additions like a Jude Law calendar. Because of course as Flossy and Boo explore what Christmas means here on earth, The Holiday is the only ‘H’ is ones A to Z.
And this is the premise of the piece. Trying to present a performance about Christmas having only just discovered Earth. Anja Conti and Laura Jeffs are accomplished in making the audience welcome, uncomfortable and full of laughter, through this out-of-world experience.
Welcomed into the space by the pair, the fear is put off guard by their warmth. The offer of the opportunity to wear a Christmas hat lodges the fear of participation right back. But there is a clever participatory element throughout. Never quite honing on individuals to a point of uncomfortable. The piece equally bounces off Stage Manager, Bethan Dawson, in the destruction of the fourth wall.
Fortunately, nothing in the production is done without utter charm, from the A to Z including ‘Frankincense’ because Christmas makes no… to songs about falling in love on Arriva Train Wales. There is every element of joy taking forward this exploration of Christmas.
And of course, there’s balance. Of Christmas Day’s inevitable arguments, hangovers, missing parcels, and commercialism. There is the gentle balance of all that Christmas can be.But when done with music- guitars, piano and ukuleles, with humour and rapport- the realities are gentle. This wonderful pairing means there is energy created in the audience. So much laughter created through the very real associations. And with an energy created, and a relaxed audience, the participation didn’t feel uncomfortable, but supportively fun.
At 75 minutes there is a lot demanded from the two actors. Truely creative, they make good use of a variety of tools to break up the fun. Slight improvisation underpins one section as audience selection determines which way Christmas is explored. Use of film and audio also introduces more fun as the concept of the office party is explored, along with an aggrieved elf. Flossy and Boo – The Alternativity provides the perfect interlude to any stresses of Christmas. Bravely addressing everything in order to get to the basis of the birth of Christmas. At this point my mind recalls an audience member as a birthing partner. And I wonder whether I should rethink my relaxed recollection of audience participation. But it is momentary, and the ‘action’ really did detract from the participation.
At The Other Room until the 23rd December, this is the perfect antidote to any Christmas stress, and the perfect way to welcome the fun of Christmas.
Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions contained are my own.