The Garden Theatre at The Eagle (venue)
10 December 2020 (released)
11 December 2020
The events of 2020 may have Londoners in a funk this Christmas, but a trip through the back doors of Vauxhall’s The Eagle to the winter grotto of Vaüxhallen is a remedy for all that.
Frostbite, the adult pantomime written by Britain’s Got Talent finalist Gareth Joyner – perhaps better known as Myra DuBois - is a gloriously kitsch affair. The audience sit, masked up and in their bubbles, under the Vauxhall sky as the cast of seven deliver a pantomime you wouldn’t want to take the kids to.
In Vaüxhallen, Fairy Snowflake (Kingsley Morton) leads the family of Bergermeister Kai (Tom Keeling) and Dame Herda Gerda (Dereck Walker) in a mission to stop the scheming Demon Frostbite (Nathan Taylor).
The show spans the space of a couple of hours, although you won’t have a second to be glancing at your watch. There’s never a dull moment in the fast-paced proceedings as the intimate venue makes attendees easy pickings for a quick witted cast.
Comic references to social distancing, the U.S. election and Dominic Cummings’ exit from Downing Street make Frostbite very much a product of 2020, although Jones’ script walks a fine line well to allow the show to remain a night of escapism for a crows starved of theatre action since March.
At the helm of the night is Walker whose Herda Gerda character oozes experience, a lewd rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas a standout moment. Walker is the metronome in the show’s unfolding and is ready to step off the gas to allow younger stars such as James Lowrie, who plays the show-stealing snowman Lumiukko, and Bessy Ewa, in the role of fiercely independent Greta, to shine.
Once or twice in the evening, Frostbite wanders dangerously close to over-egging the self-mocking pantomime shtick. Though in such moments, such as Shelley Rivers’ trademark thigh slaps for macho hero Gabro, the show’s campness saves the day.
After the year that 2020 has been, it’s great to see live theatre back in any form. With Frostbite, it’s been well worth the wait. It’s a pantomime that will have you smirking not just for its slapstick gags, but its outrageous one-liners too.
A winter holiday to Vaüxhallen is a guaranteed giggle.