Christmas at Mum’s, Speilman Studio, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol

WRITING a review of this the Christmas offering (it runs until 30th December) in the Tobacco Factory Theatre’s intimate Speilman Studio is fraught with danger, because it is the perfect example of every performance being a one off.

The two Sisters of Shesus, dressed as nuns, their faces covered in very unlikely garish thick makeup, spend as much time in and among the audience, or bringing members of the audience on stage to join them, as they do actually performing. With the result that, although there is a format to the show, the end product is very much dictated by the way in which each individual audience reacts to the Sisters’ goading. The audience with whom I shared the evening readily joined in every aspect of the show, from responding to the banter thrown at them as they took their places to playing pass-the-parcel and joining in, on and off stage, whole-heartedly in a round or two of karaoke.

During this sequence we were introduced to the Sisters’ Mum, or was she a fictional parent? She certainly looked like a lady who could be closely related to the girls, and have become a mature image of the Mum we had been looking at in videos taken at family Christmas parties of the past. True or false, she certainly knew how to party, and to encourage others to join in. Even the lady enticed into wearing a harness of giant plastic prawns for her solo vocal effort lost any inhibitions with such encouragement.

At this point an evening which had started, and was to finish with the Sisters skillfully miming to a medley of high-powered, cleverly arranged recorded music, with most of the spoken word delivered at the same level, dropped into a more contemplative mood as the Sisters recalled past Christmases shared with the father, who had died shortly after the last of the home videos was shot.

In all too short flashes we were treated to some French-and-Saunders-like comedy cross talk, and enough vocal input to give notice that the  Sisters were not short on singing talent.

And look out for guest appearances during the run, too.

If you are someone who likes to be an observer at the theatre, watching the action flow before you – a spectator rather than a player – keep well away from this the ultimate join-in show. On the other hand if, as seems to be more and more the norm with modern audiences, you want to be part of the action, this is the ideal Christmas entertainment for you.


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