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Top ten alternative Christmas shows

Looking for something a little different over the festive period? We round up ten shows that will turn your Christmas on its head

Apocalypse Meow - Crisis is Born

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 20 to 31 December

Cabaret star and chanteuse Meow Meow appeared right at the beginning of Emma Rice's tenure as boss of the Globe and here she returns towards the end of it. Having worked her magic in Rice's Midsummer Night's Dream as Titania, here she's re-staging her Christmas show which touches on themes such as the apocalypse, loneliness and lost dreams. She's fabulous and watching her in the intimate Sam Wanamaker Theatre will be a guaranteed treat. Ages 14-plus.

Read more about Emma Rice's final season at the Globe here

Michele Clark on Hula Hoop in La Soiree
© Studio Toelle Fotografie

La Soirée

Aldwych Theatre, 24 November to 3 February

This circus, burlesque, cabaret mash-up returns to London, bringing its cheeky brand of spectacular to the West End over Christmas. Expect aerial artists, hair hangings, hula hoop tricks and acrobats. This saucy show is for adults (17-plus) but if you're looking for something along these lines for the little'uns, there's La Petite Soirée, for everyone aged 8 and up.

Read more about La Soiree here

Barricade Boys

The Other Palace, 5 to 23 December

Scott Garnham and Simon Schofield's supergroup returns with Kieran Brown and Craig Mather to perform hits from Les Miserables and more. Each night over Christmas they'll also have a swathe of special guests who include Michael Xavier, Rachel Tucker, Killian Donnelly and Laura Pitt Pulford. It should be a huge amount of stagey festive fun.

Find out more about who will be appearing in the run

Mischief Movie Night

Arts Theatre, 13 December to 27 January

Not content with their current levels of international theatrical domination (they have several shows playing both here and on Broadway at the same time), Mischief Theatre will also be staging their improv show in London over Christmas. The comedy gang will improvise a movie onstage every night so you can expect many hijinks.

Find out about Mischief Theatre's Christmas TV show here

© Mihaela Bodlovic

How to Win Against History

Young Vic, 30 November to 30 December

This was an out-and-out hit at the Edinburgh Festival last year, garnering five-star reviews across the board, including one from WhatsOnStage, which called it "utterly accessible, apparently familiar and radically progressive". Now the show, which is a song and dance cabaret ditty about the life of an extraordinary Victorian aristocrat, arrives in London for the first time and will surely be a madcap, heartwarming blast. Not much Christmas but a lot of twinkle.

Read our five-star review of the show's Edinburgh run here

© Pencil Bandit

Nuclear Winter

STYX, 26 November to 24 February

This isn't exactly a piece of theatre, but it sounds like it will involve a fair amount of drama. Tottenham venue STYX is being transformed for the festive period and beyond into a hub of Cold War happenings. Expect funky nuclear-themed supper clubs and immersive dining experiences with cabaret and more that will offer a view of Christmas that may be more bomb-focused than you could predict. It sounds like much alternative festive fun.

© Andreas Lambis


Bunker Theatre, 11 to 30 December

This piece looks at the other side of Christmas, focusing on a teenager who kidnaps his brother in an attempt to escape their decrepit council house. It should be a bracing look at people who struggle during this time of the year. FCUK'D is written entirely in verse and performed by one man as part of the Hull City of Culture line-up.

Kelsey Grammer in Big Fish
© Tristram Kenton

Big Fish

The Other Palace, to 31 December

What could be more heart-warming than the beaming smile of star American actor Kelsey Grammer in this emotional musical, making its UK debut in London? It's not technically a Christmas story but it's one that will leave your heart bursting. And with a stand out performance from Grammer, it's on the list of shows not to be missed whatever time of the year.

Read our review of Big Fish here

Charlotte Brimble, Josie Kidd, James Woolley, Venice van Someren and EmmaDavies in rehearsals for Dear Brutus
© Mitzi de Margary

Dear Brutus

Southwark Playhouse, 29 November to 30 December

Though he is most well-known for Peter Pan which is rolled out again and again at this time of the year, JM Barrie has written many other dramas, including this one, Dear Brutus. It may not be directly Christmassy, but knowing Barrie, it should have an air of magic around it. The play is set in 1917 when a mysterious old man invites eight supposed strangers into an enchanted wood. The show is staged by the same team behind Southwark Playhouse's recent production of The Cardinal.

© Kieran Cudlip

Sinners Club

Soho Theatre, 5 to 30 December

This theatre-gig from Lucy Rivers takes the life of the last woman to be hanged in the UK as its starting point. So not exactly innocent festive fun. But this is an alternative Christmas show list and you'd be hard-pushed to get more alternative than Sinners Club. Watch and listen as live band The Bad Mothers record their latest album in front of you, the audience. During its run in Cardiff WhatsOnStage reviewer Matt Trueman said the show was "smart politics set to pop".

Read our review of Sinners Club

Visit our Christmas and pantomime page for all your festive needs