December is here and that means there really is no avoiding Christmas now. The holiday specials and events and coming in thick and fast, and nowhere is the season at its silliest than down at The Basement.
For this year's Christmas show, the team from A Slightly Isolated Dog present Santa Claus, an eccentric, over the top and thoroughly mad 90 minutes.
Walk through the doors into the bar-like set and before the show begins proper you are greeted by a French quartet, played by company regulars Jack Buchanan, Susie Berry, Andrew Paterson and Hayley Sproull. The four just love Christmas, and are dying to know who in the audience has been naughty or nice.
We don't know why they are French or where we are meant to be, the first sign that while there is a structure to the show, it is about as light as Christmas bauble. It is more a guided improv with a hefty dose of audience interaction, thanks to the characters interacting with the crowd and building up an impressive range of stories and jokes.
It is a delight watching stunned audience members being thrust props and costumes and filthy dialogue to recite to their delighted peers. Their reactions and impromptu quips are a highlight, with one woman's terrified response after mispronouncing chlamydia the shining star during Saturday night's show.
Unfortunately, the lack of a firmer plot leaves Santa Claus without a sense of purpose. There is the loose idea of the meaning of 'Naughty and Nice', but it feels like an ill-considered Monty Python movie at times: disjointed sketches hung together by an overall theme but without anything to bring everything together. The traditional celebrity cameo is there, but even "moustachioed sex god" Mark Sainsbury felt underused.
Yet the crowd hardly seemed to care: like any good Christmas party, it's all about embracing the joy rather than worrying about the consequences. Thanks to the enthusiastic energy and quick wit of the performers, you are pulled into the madness and can't help but soak up this chaotic spin on Christmas cheer.
Santa Claus is naughtier than it is nice, with mistletoe and oral sex jokes scattered through the show. Yet despite the flaws, it will leave you laughing all the way till to Christmas Day – just try not to think too much about it.
What: Santa Claus
Where: The Basement
When: Until December 20th
Reviewer: Ethan Sills