Mrs Gerrish's Grotto (Brewery Theatre)
There's no Christmas cheer in this rather awful alternative Christmas fare.
Kate McNab's Mrs Gerrish, produced by Ministry For Entertainment, has provided alternative Christmas fare at Tobacco Factory Theatre's for the past eight years. If Mrs Gerrish's Grotto is any indication it may be time to pension her off.
It's entertainment designed for an older market, out in force on press night, but even if I was not its target audience, they deserve much better fare than this. McNab's script feels that humour is found in saying local place names ‘Weston Super Mare' ‘Burnham On Sea' and so consequently is as funny as tooth rot and the whole thing is under rehearsed to the point that any punch lines there, are either tumbled over or skipped all together.
The plot see's the waspish 50's landlady deciding to open up her b & b on Christmas and having to cope with her monster Mum staying for the festive period, her incompetent new employee, and a Lord Mayor who may have some unforeseen kinks. These last two, plus some incompetent brother plumbers are given distinctly bland persona's by McNab's co-star Ross Harvey who grins madly throughout hoping a cheeky smile will pull him through. It briefly threatens to get interesting in a Zhivago Russia fantasy scene but then alas these wild flights of imagination are dropped for more of the mundane.
The lighting is flat, the 50's pop standards McNab sings drowned out by the pre-recorded backing tracks, my only consolation over two long hours was the portrait of an Esmerelda like gypsy hanging on the wall that distracted me momentarily and set the pulse racing more than the what was on stage.
Like a party popper without its string, champagne without the fizz, this is one Christmas cracker that should never have been pulled.