Writer and Director: Tom Spencer
Reviewer: Bethan Highgate-Betts
This year’s Christmas offering from The Bike Shed Theatre sees the venue team up with award-winning theatre company Fine Chisel, to bring a post-apocalyptic-style festive treat.
Devised and performed by Andy Kelly, George Williams and Megan Brooks, Beneath The Blizzard is set 40 years after the onslaught of a life-changing blizzard. Forcing the people of Exeter to moved underground. Following three friends, Skirret, Mulligan and Sprout, as well as a host of other quick-change characters, the show sees the friends work tirelessly to create enough energy to power their underground home. The only fun they get is at their monthly cabaret night and even then they must stop for the occasional killer snowman alarm.
Written and directed by Tom Spencer, the story isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a festive show, with each character living in their own bunker and carrying out their allotted daily work hours it’s a little more 1984 then A Christmas Carol. But equally the lovingly crafted set made up of from odds and ends gives it a do it yourself feel, which is undeniably reminiscent of childhood Christmases.
An intimate show made even more so by the audience occasionally being used as part of the set. This adds to the feeling that you are part of the production, that you like the characters are trapped underground. With the movement of each character, not the set, being what cleverly transforms the relatively small space into a series of underground tunnels, a credit to Spencer’s directing skills.
Music is a big part of this production and used by the characters as an escape from the daily toil of their lives and we see them come to life within it. From guitars to accordions Beneath the Blizzard is full of musical moments that will get you clapping and occasionally singing along. With beautifully performed original songs adding to the quirky feel of this offbeat production.
The musical talents of the three actors superbly showcased throughout, each bringing a new musical element to the numbers. Their talents also shine through with slick characterisation. Quick changes mean flitting from one character to another, with each performer subtly adjusts their costume to create a whole new person. An extremely talented cast that really brings the underground world to life.
There are moments throughout the production that can seem slightly unfinished and occasionally rushed, but this does not take away from how engaging or entertaining Beneath The Blizzard is. A brilliant festive treat for those looking for an alternative Christmas show.
Runs until 7 January 2017 | Image: Contributed