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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'Golem'

'Golem'

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. Thu Dec 18 - Mon Dec 29
More info

Christmas

  • Rated as: 3/5

The White Bear theatre pub has had a serious refurb. Gone are the framed caricatures of Millwall legends past and present. In their place, planks of driftwood, tastefully painted in Scandinavian blues and greys.That makes this early Simon Stephens play – first seen at the Bush a decade ago – a pointed piece of programming from Michael Kingsbury.

  1. White Bear Theatre Kennington Park Road, SE11 4DJ
  2. Thu Dec 18 - Sun Dec 21
More info

Cinderella and the Beanstalk

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Sleeping Trees’s new show ‘Cinderella and the Beanstalk’ is a mega-mix pantomime medley: a story that cooks up the adventures of all of your favourite fairytale heroes, heroines and villains into a stage stew and then adds a dash of panto pandemonium for extra kick.

  1. Theatre 503 503 Battersea Park Rd, SW11 3BW
  2. Thu Dec 18 - Sat Jan 10
More info

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. Sat Dec 20 - Thu Jan 22
More info

Elephants

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 18 - Sat Jan 17
More info

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
More info

Golem

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

With new show ‘Golem’, the animated vistas conjured by theatre company 1927 have become so stunning that the story could be about pretty much anything – the dos-and-don’ts of grouting; a short history of sponges; a Nick Clegg biopic – and still be essential viewing. Whereas the company’s visuals have previously been mostly influenced by German Expressionism and silent movies, here animator Paul Barritt lobs in everything from ‘Metropolis’ to ‘Monty Python’ to ‘Morph’ to create an astonishing, acid yellow world that looks like ‘Nathan Barley’ reimagined by Fritz Lang.

  1. Young Vic The Cut, SE1 8LZ
  2. Thu Dec 18 - Sat Jan 31
More info

Hope

  • Rated as: 3/5

You have to hand it to the Royal Court: it’s hard to imagine a show less Christmassy than Jack Thorne’s drama about local government funding cuts. I suppose, if I was being very tenuous, that I might compare ‘Hope’ to Christmas dinner: a bit dry and heavy going, but probably necessary and if you drink enough it’ll be okay.

  1. Royal Court Theatre Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
  2. Thu Dec 18 - Sat Jan 10
More info

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. Thu Dec 18 - Sun Jan 4
More info

Last Christmas

  • Rated as: 3/5

Despite the title, there are no Wham! references in this play from Welsh theatre company Dirty Protest. And if that sounds like something of a relief then Matthew Bulgo’s sweet and simple monologue, performed by Sion Pritchard, might just be what you need this festive season.

  1. Soho Theatre 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE
  2. Thu Dec 18 - Sun Dec 21
More info

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. Thu Dec 18 - Tue Dec 23
More info

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. Thu Dec 18 - Sat Dec 20
More info

Sirens

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Six women stand onstage, dressed in evening gowns, each of them at a sheet-music stand. They clear their throats, strike a tuning fork and then they sing. The noise they make is… horrible. It’s a tuneless, loud, high-pitched clamour and it continues for what feels like a very long time.

  1. Soho Theatre 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE
  2. Thu Dec 18 - Sun Jan 4
More info

La Soirée

  • Rated as: 4/5

From its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004, to the celebration of its tenth birthday at the South Bank today, circus-burlesque show ‘La Soireé’ has ooh-la-la’d around the world. And this slick – sometimes eye-popping – piece of entertainment has picked up performers from across the globe for this latest run.

  1. Spiegeltent at the South Bank Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
  2. Thu Dec 18 - 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. Thu Dec 18 - Sun Jan 4
More info

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. Thu Dec 18 - Sat Jan 17
More info

Usagi Yojimbo

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Southwark Playhouse’s family Christmas show is full of surprises – the most startling of which comes at the beginning, when we’re taught how to wield a sword. Don’t be alarmed, though, this isn’t some horribly inappropriate Xmas shank-fest: far from it.

  1. Southwark Playhouse Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD
  2. Thu Dec 18 - Sun Jan 4
Buy tickets

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
More info


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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... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uq9PPPFkrI Tickets here... http://theatre503.com/whats-on/margaret-thatcher-queen-of-soho/