Review: "The Grot in the Grotto" at the Soho Theatre.
I am getting too damn old for shows which start at 10:30pm.
I say this to give you a solid idea of how surprised I was when, after watching Casual Violence’s Christmas offering, I had not only managed to stay awake through the whole thing, but actually left feeling more invigorated. Weak from laughter, yes, but still peppy – imbued with a dubious festive cheer.
You might also think – being too old for late-night shows – that I am too old to sit in Santa’s lap. WRONG.
When my plus one and I arrived, my bottom had barely touched the seat before I was up again, being escorted to Santa by James Hamilton in elf ears. Standard.
“Santa” (for I began to suspect this wasn’t the real big guy after all…I could see wisps of red hair from…underneath his beard…) then proceeded to ask me what I wanted for Christmas - as is his wont. I probably tried to make some kind of nervous joke about how I wanted to come up with wittier responses to that kind of question – honestly, I’ve blanked it all out – before being sent back to my seat with… a tiny Santa box. (NOT what I asked for, Mr. Clause, but ok…)
[SIDE NOTE: the way your esteemèd writer got involved in doing theatre reviews for the Velvet Box Office…is because the brains behind the operation wanted someone to sacrifice on the altar of audience interaction. And I used to be game for this sort of shit. Cue a protracted air guitar session with Puddles the Clown in front of a room full of people, and an embarrassing moment with a member of Briefs, dressed as a monkey, with a strategically-placed banana and…well… I’ve never been quite the same since.]
BUT, back to the Grots. I returned to my seat with a tiny Santa-shaped box, mildly disappointed – but wait! This was no ordinary Santa-shaped box…
The premise of this gem of a show is simple. (HA!) Evil entrepreneur decides that, in order to make Christmas truly magical for children, the men playing department store Santas need to truly believe that they truly are Santa himself. So, his company kidnaps homeless men, brainwashes them, stuffs them with dinner until they have a realistic Claus-like gut, and then sends them out into the shops. Then, once it’s all over, they kick them back onto the streets with a bottle of sherry. See? Simple.
My trusty plus-one and I saw Casual Violence’s House of Nostril back in October, so we thought we had some idea of what to expect.
This show is mental. Just as you think the plot starts to make sense, all coherence goes to shit. But my grotness is it funny. I know for a fact that I hooted in a most unladylike fashion at least thrice, and spent the rest of the show with constant, throaty, low-level chuckling.
High points for me were:
Murderous Santa. Game of Thrones-esque violence from Father Christmas himself. Fabulous.
The sheer, petty evil of the main villain, which will live in my memory forever, and probably shape my parenting techniques considerably. I won’t give anything away spoilers, so you better get a ticket if you want to know what I mean.
Honestly, there’s not much else I can say without spoiling it so… just go see it. Genuinely one of my festive highlights. It’s on tonight and tomorrow at the Soho Theatre and you can buy tickets here.
Good luck, and good grotting.