Once Upon a Christmas

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'Once Upon a Christmas'

I have to confess, I was alarmed by the ‘elfa-seltzer’. Test tubes gleam with the green and pink liquid, and as the expectant audience wait on chairs so miniature our knees were practically up to our shoulders, I just knew we were going to have to drink one. Sure enough, when a very hassled twenty-first century elf appeared, the instruction was given. In ‘Alice in Wonderland’, such potions make you shrink or grow – in perambulatory show ‘Once Upon a Christmas’ it supposedly gives you the power to observe a very post-modern take on the troubles that have erupted in Pantoland.

Site specific theatre company Look Left Look Right has been given the entirety of Covent Garden as its playground, and it has to be said, it provides a spectacular set. This reviewer is slightly allergic to elves, even of the post-modern variety, but thankfully their role quickly fades. Like the animals in Noah’s ark, punters have to go in two by two, before being separated to go on different missions to ‘save Christmas’. What ensues is a series of ingeniously choreographed ‘encounters’ around some of Covent Garden’s most picturesque shops, in which tabloid culture, scandalous tweets, and a defiantly unseasonal monk all play their part in refracting the central fairy tale for sceptics.

It is forbidden to reveal exact details. Suffice it to say that this will be an entertaining test for all aspects of your personality, as you are asked either to slag off and taunt characters behind their backs, improvise poems and dispense large dollops of relationship advice. As you progress, all the data you reveal is assiduously collected and passed onto a central source. Throughout the question lurks, will you or will you not save Christmas?

The culmination of the journey is as amusing as it is cleverly co-ordinated – a gloriously tongue-in-cheek response both to the ongoing story and your own contribution. The fact that the lurid ‘elfa-seltzer’ has been replaced by prosecco is yet another delight in this mischievous reinvention of both London and the festive season.

By Rachel Halliburton

Event phone: 020 7379 6344
Event website: http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk

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Ruby isla Cera Marle

If you keep your eyes peeled during the festive season amongst the touristy hustle and bustle of London’s Covent Garden, you may just spot some familiar faces from Panto Land. For their latest production, Once Upon A Christmas, the highly acclaimed immersive theatre company Look Left Look Right has transformed Covent Garden’s plaza into its very own theatrical playground. Arriving at a secret meeting point, knowing very little about this alternative Yuletide experience (other than the fact that the adventure will take place in pairs) conjures emotions ranging from excitement to intrigue. Briefed that it would be our duty to save Christmas, we were sent on our merry way. Weaving through the nooks and crannies of Covent Garden, never knowing where or when a character would spring up from, is utterly exhilarating. Each character provided us with our next task or instruction, and the choices we made shaped the story. In this pantomime with a twist, the audience participation goes far beyond merely shouting “he’s behind you!” Although the title of this piece may sound like a children’s story, I must stress that the magic can only be experienced by those that are over the age of eighteen. Characters such as Dandini and Buttons may look familiar, but these cheeky gossip-mongers are more adult incarnations of these pantomime staples. Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Katie Lyons’s script is extremely witty and littered with many a panto-related pun, but what impressed me most about this stellar cast was their ability to go off script and ad-lib. For a piece that relies so heavily on audience interaction, the cast’s fast-paced improvisation skills are second to none. This in turn heightens the sense that you are having a unique, tailor-made experience and that your interaction with the characters would differ from the next audience member’s rendezvous with them. I have visited Covent Garden countless times before; however, thanks to the local authorities giving Look Left Look Right complete free rein of the area, I was surprised to discover many doors and passageways that I never knew existed. It’s remarkable really that a piece of theatre can reinvent such a familiar space. Personally, I have never experienced a site-specific production in such a public place; the idea that I was immersed in such a surreal world whilst the vast majority of the public were going about their day-to-day business made my adventure all the more magical. The team behind Once Upon A Christmas should also be applauded for their slick delivery and precision: pairs begin their journeys at seven minute intervals and never once did I cross paths or even see any of the other participants. The denouement of the piece is spectacular and left me feeling festive, but as you leave the space you are asked to vow to keep your journey a secret, as Look Left Look Right want each audience member to experience their show with no expectations. So hopefully I have managed to walk the thin tightrope between enticing you to experience Once Upon A Christmas first-hand, and keeping to my end of the secrecy oath.

James

One of the BEST Christmas shows ive ever seen!!! I felt very much part of the show, had me up on my feet at all times i now see covent garden in a whole new light, everyone played a great part in saving christmas, DONT forget this year I saved CHRISTMAS!!

Pom Pom

Just home from a trip to covent garden.Surprise present from sister to help save Christmas.What that involved was a sort of follow the clue to get the prince &cinderella to marry & save CHRISTMAS.OK it mat seem a bit weird but I have to say it was fun.Even shown to other strangers in the street as the ones saving Christmas &they said well done.The characters were very good ,very friendly & the main thing is we got cinders & the prince together & we saved CHRISTMAS.Yippee.&a happy new year.