Alice and Bob’s Whopping Christmas Cracker Show/Party – Pegasus Theatre, Oxford
A party is getting underway at the Pegasus Theatre in Oxford. We are greeted as long-lost family by ‘Cousin Alice’ and ‘Cousin Bob’, who seem to know everyone. The family gets together every Christmas, apparently, with an evening full of festive traditions to enjoy, from the Christmas Carol-aoke to the annual family argument. Alice and Bob insist they are twins, although one seems to be English and the other Canadian, and they keep getting confused about who is who. Not everything is what it seems, but the two of them know how to throw a party.
Alice and Bob’s Whopping Christmas Cracker Show is a highly enjoyable children’s entertainment, with something going on for everyone. The two performers, engaging, eccentric and fizzing with energy, lead the audience willing through irresistibly silly activities wound around a story of a Christmas tree and a robin which delivers classic festive food for thought about helping people left on the margins. The fun includes a version of The Twelve Days of Christmas that promises to make all the audience’s Christmas wishes, from world peace to a guinea pig, come true as long as we can remember what order they come in. The seasonal family argument involves two turtle doves who wind each other up something rotten. A cathartic wrapping paper fight reveals how strangely satisfying it is to throw balls of paper at your friend in the next seat, from point blank range. Bob wears a fine Christmas tree costume, and Alice’s London-toned robin is chippy as well as chirpy.
The evening packs plenty in, skillfully combining traditional storytelling with inspired clowning, delivering a show with an alternative edge that keeps all ages entertained without a patronising moment. It’s all about the audience though, as Bob and Alice clearly relish the interaction. Their improvisation gives the evening a delightful level of unpredictability. With two highly talented performers in charge, it’s a pleasure to sit back and let them take us wherever their fertile imaginations are headed. Their deceptively simple work guarantees a fine time for all.