John Dalziel and Lawrence Neale play two friends who have wound up in low-level office jobs and don’t quite know how to get out. They don’t ask for much, little more than to get drunk and steal glances at the semi-mythical Carol at the office party this Christmas. However, with the yuletide songs flowing and with Santa on his way, maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance of some romance this year.
Carols and Cocktails is a short play about love so unrequited, the object of the affection never quite guesses what’s going on, as well as those friendships which are equal parts keeping each other sane and holding each other back. The staging might be sparse, with little more than a piano, a ukulele and some tinsel accompanying the two leads, but then again, that’s all that’s required for this simple tale of nostalgia and longing.
The show alternates between spoken banter, sketching out the backgrounds of our unlikely heroes, and the belting out of some old Christmas favourites (The Pogues, Slade and Band Aid all feature). The key strength of the show, and why it’s so appropriate for this time of year is clearly its capacity for crowd participation. The relatively small audience which flocked to this show could have created a problem but luckily that famous Christmas spirit was in attendance and things ran smoothly from start to finish, with some great tunes and not a little alcohol playing their part.
Written by Ben Dickinson and directed by Ali Pritchard this was the perfect antidote to any seasonal cynicism and really warmed the heart with its blend communality and aching nostalgia. It even survived this reviewer’s attempts to get in on the action with a bit of tambourine. The perfect way to kick off the festive season.
For more live shows, including music and theatre, check out the Alphabetti Theatre website here: www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk/