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Chriskirkpatrickmas | Seven Dials Playhouse

Reminiscent of the classic tale A Christmas Carol, Chriskirkpatrickmas blends the traditional use of a supernatural guide to help convey a message, and the unique idea of extending this narrative device to the famous 90s boy band NSYNC. Written by Valen Shore and Alison Zatta (both also perform) and directed by Riley Rose Critchlow (who also performs) the show is focused on Chris Kirkpatrick (from NSYNC). The thematic idea of the show is sound, delving into how one defines themselves, fear of the future and holding onto the glory days. With the continual belief (and running joke) that NSYNC will reunite, Chris turns down other opportunities, desperately clinging to his former band members - particularly the most well-known Justin Timberlake.

Nicole Wyland, who portrays Justin, does a brilliant job and is believable as the famous pop star. Charming, dynamic, talented and cheeky, she brings a fluidity to the piece. Despite being set up as as the show's antagonist, Justin becomes the most sympathetic character through Wyland's portrayal. However, it is Natassia Bustamante who delivers the standout performance as the band's manager Lou Pearlman. Delivering the show's most defined and memorable number, (an antagonistic number that reminds one of Ursula's Poor Unfortunate Souls), she elevates the show as a whole. In a stroke of genius, the choreographed movement (Lili Fuller) of puppet master and puppet is impressive to watch.

The show is entertaining and highly enjoyable, that will doubtlessly leave you impressed by the concept of boy band meets a Christmas Carol. Occasionally poking fun at itself and the subject matter (the tear away clothes and random dance breaks amongst others), the show is engaging, ridiculously funny and promising. The songs themselves (Taylor J Williams as musical director) are great, with clever lyrics that are suited to the cast. Valen Shore, as Chris, has some particularly impressive numbers. I do however think that the beginning and ending could be reworked a little, as the former tries to hard and the latter not as much. The ending is a little abrupt with the expected conclusion almost lacking a connection with the previous scenes.

The show takes a while to find its footing, rushing into the story and a number of back to back songs, leaving the audience lost and confused. Whilst the songs, particularly the opening number, are catchy enough, they don't particularly stand out in the same way that the latter songs do. The show has a few genuinely amusing jokes that are slipped into conversation, but a lot of jokes are aimed at the audience, breaking the fourth wall in an awkward manner.

Whilst it allows for character development, an interesting force and an excuse for a number of pop culture references, the use of Marky Mark (Mark Wahlberg's younger persona) left me feeling a little disconnected from the character. Knowing the actor's problematic past, it seemed an odd choice for such an important character. In a lovely twist, we also see Marky Mark undergo his own transformative and educational journey, which inspires the question of who these Christmas spirits really are.

Firmly cementing the show in the 2009s, the costumes are incredibly on point. Older iPhone models, tape recorders, references and vocabulary are fitting. Clearly a lot of time, heart and love has gone into the piece, and the passion and humour shines throughout. The set is quite simple, with a select few props. The lighting was great, particularly the funkier and chaotic moments of moving colour during scene transitions.

Chriskirkpatrickmas is a great show to combine the love of pop culture and Christmas cheer, and the talented cast ensures that you're submerged in the world. Initially an Edinburgh Fringe production, this is another example that smaller shows often pack the most passion and heart. This is a show you need to say Hi, Hi, Hi too.

Chriskirkpatrickmas is currently playing at the Seven Dials Playhouse until the 30th of December. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Hector Rodríguez


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