Alternative Christmas shows in London

Festive culture without the clichés: take your pick of the capital's best alternative Christmas theatre



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Going to the theatre this winter doesn't have to mean nutcrackers and camp men dressed as Marie Antoinette. There are plenty of alternative shows that will help to quell the Christmas overload. This page will get updated as more shows are announced, but you can see all shows in December here.

Apocalypse Meow: Crisis Is Born

In the hands of singer Meow Meow, this should be a Christmas cabaret like no other. The performer's new show 'Apocalypse Meow: Crisis Is Born' takes place as part of the Southbank Centre's Winter Festival and should offer Meow Meow's popular brand of saucy songs, satire and comedy. Ages 14-plus.

  1. Purcell Room South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Tue Dec 16 - Mon Dec 29
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You wouldn't expect challenging but oft-brilliant playwright Simon Stephens to really dig the festive season. Nonetheless, here's a play of his that's literally called 'Christmas'. It's not your usual cheery, seasonal fare, though, set, as it is, in an East End boozer where the landlord is waiting for his customers a week before Xmas day. It's a show that explores London's lost souls and is revived by Michael Kingsbury for Spellbound Productions.

  1. White Bear Theatre Kennington Park Road, SE11 4DJ
  2. Thu Nov 27 - Sun Dec 21
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Cinderella and the Beanstalk

Say, what now? Isn't that supposed to be 'Jack and the Beanstalk'? Apparently not, in Theatre 503's Christmas offering, which follows a mash up of fairy tale pantomime characters including Rumple Stiltskin, Cinderella, beanstalks and golden eggs. All performed by only three actors who sing, dance and fight. Tom Attenborough directs. Find more Christmas pantomimes in London

  1. Theatre 503 503 Battersea Park Rd, SW11 3BW
  2. Tue Dec 2 - Sat Jan 10
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Don Quixote

Brilliant Cuban dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta staged his 'Don Quixote' in 2013 and revives it now as part of the Royal Ballet's autumn season. Acosta's version of the tales about the bumbling knight and his trusty squire Sancho Panza is inspired by Marius Petipa's version and has music from Ludwig Minkus. Acosta himself dances Basilio, along with Steven McRae and Matthew Golding while Marianela Nunez dances Kitri alongside Natalia Osipova and Fumi Kaneko.  

  1. Royal Opera House Bow St, WC2E 9DD
  2. Thu Nov 27 - Thu Jan 22
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Screenwriter, actress and novelist Rosie Heiney turns her hand to the stage with black comedy 'Elephants'. Set at 5.53pm on Christmas Eve, a couple is waiting for friends and family and festivities to start. But will last year's surprising revelations over the festive period overshadow the current Christmases fun? The third of three plays to run at the Hampstead Theatre's downstairs 60-seat theatre this season.

  1. Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue, NW3 3EX
  2. Thu Dec 11 - Sat Jan 17
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Fascinating Aida – Charm Offensive

Hard to credit, but Fascinating Aida have been at it for 30 years now and remain at the top of their game. Adèle Anderson, Liza Pulman and founder member Dillie Keane deliver witty, musically nimble tunes that hark back to music-hall classics while remaining devilishly up to date: recent subjects include Tesco, dogging and cheap flights (now familiar to millions of YouTubers).


  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Thu Jan 1 - Sun Jan 11
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Theatre company 1927 wowed audiences in London and beyond with their macabre hit 'The Animals and Children Took to the Streets'. Here they create a brand new piece as the Christmas show in the Young Vic's 2014 programme. The company use animation, songs, humour and live performance to explore the relationship between man and machines.

  1. Young Vic The Cut, SE1 8LZ
  2. Tue Dec 9 - Sat Jan 17
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The winning team behind this year's massive hit 'Let the Right One In' reunite on this new play 'Hope'. It sounds pretty different to that vampiric fairytale, though: 'Hope' is a political play about the squeezing government cuts where leaders of the council Hilary and Mark are on a mission to save 22 million pounds. Excellent John Tiffany directs following his winning touch on'LTROI' and earlier hit 'Black Watch'. Ages 14-plus.

  1. Royal Court Theatre Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
  2. Thu Nov 27 - Sat Jan 10
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It's A Wonderful Life

The UK premiere of this stage adaptation of Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas weepie film 'It's A Wonderful Life'. The piece is performed as a live radio play and is directed by Guy Retallack. Gerard McCarthy stars as George Bailey, the man saved by a guardian angel at Christmas.

  1. Bridge House Theatre Penge High St, SE20 8RZ
  2. Tue Dec 9 - Sun Jan 4
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Last Christmas

Welsh theatre company Dirty Protest bring their somewhat sad Christmas monologue to Soho Theatre for the festive season. 'Last Christmas' follows Tom who is heading home for Christmas in order to escape his current problems. But a whole bunch of other issues pop up from his past.  

  1. Soho Theatre 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE
  2. Tue Dec 9 - Sun Dec 21
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Noël Coward's Christmas Spirits

A Christmas show featuring that old luvvie Noël Coward. Written by Nick Hutchison, the piece is set in the writer and actor's Mayfair flat in London during the Blitz at Christmas. Stefan Bednarczyk and Charlotte Wakefield star.

  1. St James Theatre 12 Palace St, SW1E 5JA
  2. Mon Dec 8 - Tue Dec 23
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The Picture of Dorian Gray

This new adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novella about aestheticism and how easy the human soul can be corrupted returns for Christmas with a seasonal theme. A Greenwich townhouse is transformed into a 19th century salon where visitors will be able to explore the world of the young and decadent Victorian Dorian Gray.The character's abode will be decked out in Christmas Victoriana. Exact times and venue will be revealed once you have registered on the website for a ticket.

  1. Venue given on booking
  2. Tue Dec 2 - Sat Dec 20
More info


Daring, experimental Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed return with this piece featuring six women exploring  what it means to be female in the 21st century. Personal experience imbues the piece, which uses a striking soundscape. The company's previous shows include breathtakingly anarchic 'Once and For all We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen' and the weird date show 'Internal'. Their work is infinitely testing and surprising and the reports from its Edinburgh festival run of 'Sirens' are promising.

  1. Soho Theatre 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE
  2. Tue Dec 2 - Sun Jan 4
More info

A Show For Christmas by Daniel Kitson

Judging by the pre-show blurb, Daniel Kitson clearly hasn't entirely decided what his Christmas show is going to be about - although he probably wouldn't tell us even if he did. There may well be snow, he says, and he may also wear a costume, but that's basically about it. Who needs more, though, than to know that 'A Show For Christmas by Daniel Kitson' is a new piece by Daniel Kitson? The left-field comedian, story teller and theatre-maker has been responsible for some of the funniest, most poignant and entertaining evenings ever. Period. On for only six days at the beginning of December, best to snatch up tickets to this as soon as they go on sale on October 22.  

  1. Battersea Arts Centre Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN
  2. Mon Dec 1 - Sat Dec 6
More info


This new play is inspired by a homeless man who spends most of his time reading outside Turnham Green tube station. After passing Matthew on the way to work, Greg A Smith decided to pen a play about him. 'Sheltered' is the result, a dark comedy about a seemingly benevolent family who offer a bookworm tramp a home over Christmas.

  1. Tabard Theatre Bath Rd, W4 1LW
  2. Thu Nov 27 - Sat Dec 6
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La Soirée

The whole audience is treated to a breathtaking melée of burlesque, vaudeville and circus sideshow. Some performers astound with feats of physical nerve and endurance; others charm with character sketches and slapstick. The seamless production allows no time for you to pick your jaw up from the floor before the next act takes to the stage.

  1. Spiegeltent at the South Bank Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
  2. Thu Nov 27 - Sun Jan 11
More info

This Is Not a Christmas Play

Get away from the festivities with this alternative Christmas story, which doesn't slather on the sleigh bells. It's the tale of David, who doesn't want Christmas and with the help of his best friend he's on a mission to win his girlfriend back. From Encompass Productions.

  1. Café Mode 57-59 Endell Street, WC2H 9AJ
  2. Tue Dec 9 - Sun Jan 4
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Tiger Country

  • Rated as: 4/5

The surroundings are uncomfortably familiar: ugly blue lino, banal curtains shielding horrors, sinister beeps from complex machinery. Only the hospital smell is missing. Patients walk in or are wheeled off; doctors suture and argue.

  1. Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue, NW3 3EX
  2. Mon Dec 8 - Sat Jan 17
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Usagi Yojimbo

Films based on comic books are all the rage at the moment, but plays based on comic books are a little harder to realise. Which means it will be interesting to see what this new adaptation of Stan Sakai's 30-year-old comic that featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks like.

  1. Southwark Playhouse Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD
  2. Fri Nov 28 - Sun Jan 4
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Winter's Tales

Shakespeare's Globe expands its Christmas events with this series of performances of short stories read by some of the best actors around. Penelope Wilton reads Anton Chekhov's 'The Lady with the Little Dog', Juliet Stevenson takes on 'The Garden Party' by Katherine Mansfield and Roger Allam will read 'Odour of Chrysanthemums' by DH Lawrence alongside much more. These are all read by romantic candlelight in the Globe's new indoor theatre The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

  1. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, SE1 9DT
  2. Sun Dec 21 - Mon Jan 5
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Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho

I'm sure you only missed me off to give the other shows a chance. Yes, that's right, I'm back and more fabulous than ever! In a brand new drag musical comedy satirical extravaganza. Ever wondered what might have happened if I, Margaret Thatcher, had got lost in Soho on the eve of the vote for section 28, reversed all my views, and become an overnight cabaret sensation? Then wonder no more! Written and directed by award winning playwright Jon Brittain and co-written by and starring Matt Tedford as the lady herself, Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho is a hilarious tongue in cheek Christmas show that's running at Theatre503 from 10th December - 4th January. There'll be music, laughter and free school milk for all! Where there are discos, may we bring harmony! Trailer here... Tickets here...