2 Become 1 @ King’s Head Theatre

Kerri Thomason and Natasha Granger’s 2 Become 1 is an upbeat musical exploring female friendship and the evolution of dating, set to a 90s soundtrack. Bursting with nostalgia and girl power, the play perfectly captures the pop-culture of the era, and the talented cast present some truly hilarious renditions of these classic songs.

Jess (Granger) has just been dumped by her boyfriend, and to stop her from wallowing in self-pity, her friends decide to take her on a night out. From speed dating, to using Cosmo tips to impress men, to singing in the ladies loos, the girls do their best to cheer up Jess’ broken heart. But in the end, after a quick stop at the chippy, Jess realises she doesn’t need a man when she is surrounded by girl power.

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Photo: Liam Prior

The chemistry of the cast is exquisite on stage and it genuinely feels like these women have been friends for a long time. Granger captures the distressed dumpee’s character perfectly, and her physical comedy is brilliant. The stand-out performer of the piece is Jessica Brady, who plays the obsessive and fickle-hearted Amanda. Her powerful voice is the perfect fit for Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You,’ and along with the audience participation, this is the highlight of the piece.

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Photo: Liam Prior

While presenting a female-centric view through their characters, Thomason and Granger split the action with real-life recordings of men and their opinions on dating. Contrasting the 90s action with the contemporary recordings highlights just how much dating has changed in such a short period of time, especially with the internet. We see the character Molly (played by Thomason) muse about this at the end of their girls night out, commenting on just how ridiculous it would be to form opinions of people based just on the way they look.

Thomason and Granger have created a short and energetic piece, full of laughs and great throwbacks. Though their is an overarching theme about modern-day dating practices and how unorthodox they are when compared to 20 years ago, this is a very light-hearted show. With just the right amount of cheesiness, 2 Become 1 is a delight, and a great alternative Christmas treat.

2 Become 1 is at the King’s Head Theatre until 7th January.

A Christmas Carol @ Above the Arts Theatre

The holiday season means a whole host of Christmas shows, especially adaptations of A Christmas Carol (two have been programmed at the Arts Theatre alone), but The Flanagan Collective stand out from the crowd with their immersive experience. Complete with parlour games, Christmas crackers and a two-course meal, the company brings to life Dickens’ festive ghost story in spectacular fashion.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Al Barclay) is sitting alone at his desk on Christmas Eve, miserable about the festive season, and refusing to give to charity. Suddenly the ghost of his dead business partner Jacob Marley (Jack Whitam) appears, along with a room full of spirits. Marley and the other ghosts take Scrooge back to the Christmas of his childhood, celebrate Christmas in the present, and show him glimpse of future Christmas, in the hope that he gains some Christmas joy.

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Photo: Mat Johns

This extremely entertaining two-hander is expertly performed by both Barclay and Whitam, who keep the audience engaged throughout the show. As you walk into the space, the long dining table is an indication of the upcoming hearty meal of pies and trimmings, provided by chef Danny Jack. The audience are involved in the story straight away, acting as the spirits alongside Marley’s ghost, so participation feels easy and pleasant. This is of course helped by the cheerful Whitam who guides everyone through each element of the evening with laughter and wit.

Writer Alexander Wright and director Tom Bellerby have brilliantly created an immersive experience that is engrossing, filling, and genuinely fun. Dickens’ story is perfectly weaved around the dinner in the middle of the show, with just the right amount of spookiness necessary for the Victorian setting. If you’re looking for a joyfully festive evening with laughter and great entertainment, A Christmas Carol is the show for you.

A Christmas Carol is at Above the Arts Theatre until 31st December.