Last Christmas

Matthew Bulgo

Dirty Protest

Assembly George Square

From 31 July 2014 to 25 August 2014

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

Last Christmas belies its initial impression. Matthew Bulgo, who has written and tells the tale, wears the costume that has become de rigueur with stand-up comedians but what he has to say is more moving than merely funny.

The opening sorties feature a rather sour, London-based Welshman finding fault with first his newly-pregnant wife and then a series of bland workmates at the kind of Christmas party that it is best to avoid.

What feels like a light, observational comedy becomes something deeper once our man makes the journey home to his Mam's in Swansea.

Before he gets there, an interaction with three school mates a dozen years on serves several purposes.

It presents a contrast between an escapee who has a dead-end job while dreaming of becoming a film director (don't we all?) with the guys who have remained in a relative provincial backwater.

In addition, it offers an opportunity to see true camaraderie and generosity as well as revealing that last year's Yuletide festivities were blighted by Dad's untimely death. This becomes the main subject for the remainder of the hour.

With that in mind, ultimately, Last Christmas is a play about catharsis, forgiveness and the need to come to terms with mortality and the future. That is pretty heavy stuff but Matthew Bulgo carries it off with aplomb.