Supporting Wall in association with New Diorama, Oxford's Arts at the Old Fire Station, and Jonny & The Baptists
New Diorama Theatre
Jonny Donahoe’s Thirty Christmases, a knockabout comedy with rousing songs and lots of jokes about an imagined socialist anarchist father tells the story of a fractured family, homelessness and childhood loss.
The characters Jonny, his sister Rachel and their mate Paddy who does his best to keep them on track describe their dad’s unusual slant on Christmas over a period of thirty years. His approach is partially summed up in their song “Jesus was a socialist and a feminist”.
He would give them gifts that showed he was joining in the festive spirit but did it in a way that expressed his distinct views. One of them would receive a brick wrapped in bright Xmas paper, the other would get everything they both wanted. They quickly realised they were to share the gifts.
Some aspects of his Christmas they never quite understood. There were the long drives in a car, once to sit for ages outside the house of their mother, and on another occasion arriving at the home of someone the children didn’t know. The person wasn’t expecting them but welcomed them all the same. However she caused them some confusion when she put their clothes in the freezer.
The stage is decorated as if for a Christmas party. There is a prominent picture of Marx on the wall. Even as we are arriving to our seats, the cast are handing out paper hats and chocolate, while someone is asked to peel the potatoes for dinner.
Later they recall and make their dad’s strange eggnogs which included bacon eggnog, shrimp eggnog and chicken drum stick eggnog. Some brave audience volunteers got to drink them.
The show is less a play and more of an extended stand up comedy with all the anarchic humour and music we have come to associate with Jonny & The Baptists.
It may not change the world but it is likely to send you from the theatre in good spirits.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna