Emily Garside is at The Other Room in Cardiff to cast a critical eye over Flossy and Boo’s Christmas show Alternativity.
Christmas is a confusing time. There are traditions nobody understands, forced merriment and the horror of horrors… the Christmas party. Luckily this year Flossy and Boo are here to explain things with their Alternativity. Having taken over The Other Room for Christmas, they are tasked with delivering a traditional Nativity. Of course, being Flossy and Boo nothing is quite traditional. Except for Michael Bublé, and that’s probably almost law at Christmas at this point.
Framed in a fun nod to the world of theatre-making the show is comprised of Flossy and Boo’s ‘Research and Development’ where they try to find out as much about Christmas as possible before putting on their Nativity (which eventually becomes the grand finale). The show is shaped by asking the audience to draw the next segment at random from a stocking. A real skill of this cabaret duo if how they masterfully carry the show seamlessly from one section to another despite not knowing what will come next. And although they lovingly involve her in the action, much respect must also go to their stage manager Bethan Dawson who oversees and keeps working the whole thing.
It’s a cleverly written, observational work. As the ‘outsiders’ looking in on our strange traditions, Flossy and Boo muse on the weird and wonderful world of family, Santa, presents, and the office party. They deliver a set of perfectly formed mini plays the are funny and creepy in equal measure. They have a deft talent for delivering the unexpected; just when a tale seems a straightforward romp it might take a sinister turn with the help of some puppets. Elements of slapstick come into play, but never veering fully into farce and the audience is encouraged (sometimes strongly) to participate. It feels like being part of a surreal family Christmas, complete with sprouts.
No Christmas show is complete without music, and Flossy and Boo incorporate some funny, silly but accomplished songs. Each song is perfectly integrated, and serves to move the plot along or evoke emotion. It is better than a lot of musical theatre writing. Its perfect pitch cabaret stylings, and both women also have beautiful voices which just enhances their effectiveness.
Laughter dominates the evening. Flossy and Boo create a genuine laugh-out-loud, and along-for-the-ride experience.
It’s also wonderful to see a small company doing well. Anja Conti and Laura Jeffs have created through their hard work, trials and experiments a theatre/cabaret format that really works. In their alternative way of looking at the world, Flossy and Boo offer funny, sharp and insightful looks at our world. Working with very little in terms of set or technical resource they create entertaining and sometimes magical work. And for Christmas Flossy and Boo should really get the present of being embraced by the theatre world, and seen by as many people as possible.
To find out about upcoming shows at The Other Room visit their website.
To find out more about Flossy and Boo visit their website.
Emily Garside is a writer, an active member of the Cardiff theatre community, and a contributor to Wales Arts Review.