“OH another Christmas show!” you might mumble, or “OH another promenade!” But for me, these are words of good cheer, and combined with some positive words about theater company Look Left Look Right from Ought To Be Clowns, I was quite enthused about checking out Once Upon a Christmas. Upon registering on their website (many small slots; note this show is to be done as a pair, as you are both “detecting”), I was given an address very near Covent Garden and told to arrive a few minutes early to check in.
And after this … well, it’s hard to talk about without spoiling the experience, but I’ll try: basically, you and your companion are going to walk around Covent Garden, trying to solve a mystery. The environment is very British Christmas – there are elves but no Santa Claus, and a basic knowledge of panto is pretty key to getting what is going on (especially with the bearded men wearing pink bras and needing help getting dressed for “the ball”), but the mystery itself doesn’t require too much brain to figure out (so don’t worry that you might not be able to do it if you’re not clever). It’s fun, though, to see how what you’ve done and said along the way reappears in unexpected ways, especially in the grand finale.
While I’m not one to single out performers, I have to credit the real star of this show: Covent Garden. The opportunity to see some hidden spaces was really a treat for me, and I really enjoyed being in very familiar ones but experiencing them in very different ways. However, I found the ticket price a bit off-putting for what was delivered, even with the number of performers involved and the clear effort from numerous people backstage required to keep it all moving forward. I was mollified somewhat at the end, where there is a champagne and wine reception – not just for the night I went but for every night. An hour doing a sort of scavenger hunt around one of my favorite London locales, with an additional twenty or so minutes to have a drink and chat – now, that is my idea of a fine way to spend a holiday evening.
(This review is for a performance that took place Thursday, November 21st, 2013. It continues through December 15th.)