My last theatre trip of the year was, somewhat fittingly, to one of the theatres I have spent most time in since I got here, Live Theatre. Christmas Crackers is a portmanteau show – 4 short plays by the theatre’s associate artists – and though it was patchy in places, with some overdone performances, there were flashes of really great writing in there, and overall I enjoyed the warm-heartedness of the piece. Read my review here – and Merry Christmas!
One of the things I really love about my job is it allows me to go places I wouldn’t normally go. Last night was a great example, when I braved the cold to venture out to see a production of A Christmas Carol set in Newcastle’s castle itself.
The company had warned the castle keep was unheated, so to wrap up warm and bring a hot water bottle – a theatrical first for me. So, clad in my giant fake fur coat and a slightly incongruous bright blue woolly scarf celebrating both stormtroopers and a Japanese football team I have never heard of (shut up, it was a gift and I love it), carrying a hot water bottle tucked on my person, I headed into town.
The night started badly – apparently, my sense of direction is so poor I can lose an actual castle, so after wandering forlornly around several dark underpasses I finally accepted the castle wasn’t where I left it. (I was starting to get a bit nervous around all these tunnels, though I figured if I got mugged I could hit any assailants with my hot water bottle, which would at least have the benefit of being unexpected…)
Eventually I got my bearings and found the place, and after a quick pee in nearby pub the Bridge – which I haven’t been to in years! – was led up some steep stone stairs into the hall where the show was performed – an enjoyable mix of striking puppetry, movement and acting that, while not a classic take on the show, was a fun enough watch and certainly worth an hour of my evening, performed by an amiable, energetic company.
Plus, how often do you get to say you spent your Sunday night hanging out in a castle?
It’s been a busy work week for me, but I did manage to squeeze in some socialising (and shopping: I could have happily bought up the whole of Fenwick’s Christmas department…)
First up was A Christmas Carol at Northern Stage, a 20s set take on the story with a great jazz soundtrack. It took a little while to get going and was – as everything seems to be – a bit too long, but once it hit its stride it’s a delight of a show, with some really impressive physical theatre and I particularly enjoyed seeing a classic in my native accent. (Review here).
Next was Mixtape Xmas at Live Theatre. A raucous sorta pop quiz, I went with my friend L as a birthday celebration – although the show could have been much tighter, and some of the audience were frankly a bit twatty, it was good fun and for once my arcane knowledge of 80s and 90s pop lyrics came in handy…
I haven’t been home for Christmas in a while, so not sure if this is a new thing or not, but very taken with the Christmas market around Grey Street. A lovely mix of food and gift stalls, it’s perfect for a browse on a winter’s eve, and though I am not sure of the weekday opening hours on a Thursday night it was bustling!
So, I was in an incredible grump today that was proving hard to shift. Luckily when I emailed my friend M to see if she was willing to meet up and shake me out of my mood, she agreed. We went for dinner at the newly revamped Carluccios, but not before a wander around the Christmas market and a couple of drinks at festive pop up Miracle on Grey Street. The bar was a bit rammed, though the atmosphere was friendly, and they do an inventive array of cocktails alongside mulled wine and cider. I plumped for the vodka and prosecco Tinsel Toon while M had a rum-based baubles for all and a good time was had…
Back at Live yesterday, as this is a culture heavy week for me. I had really high hopes for the play – an all-woman production – but it ended up being pretty frustrating on a number of levels (see my review here). That said, I’ve had a pretty good run at Live so the occasional disappointment is to be expected, I suppose… and it’s always worth a visit. I did get to see the Christmas lights in town, though…
Ask any Geordie what Christmas means to them, and one phrase is likely to reoccur: Fenwick’s window. The annual unveiling of this festive decor is a huge deal in the city, and it meant so much to me when I was away that my friends would be dispatched to take photos. Each year has a theme – though none has ever, for my mind, matched its much-vilified Santa goes to Mars, from my childhood, which everyone hated, but appealed to mini-Geek me.
This year’s was uncontroversial – the Snowman – and is a delight. (My photos are slightly shonky, as I was dodging crowds and racing to the theatre). Best bit though is a marketing genius at the Greggs opposite realising if they reversed their sign they are reflected in the window for a nice bit of free advertising…