Christmas Time

Near-ta Theatre, Grampound Village Hall

By Matt Dixon

THIS delicious two-man play really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Now in it's tenth year, the brainchild of Falmouth pair Ciaran Clarke and Daniel Richards is a must-watch.

The pace, characterisation and warmth of the play leaves a fuzzy feeling similar to that of a morning sherry.

Set in prison on Christmas Day, Toby (Ciaran) is determined to make the most of his time inside.

At first his cell mate Charlie is grouchy and reticent, but Toby's fresh-faced enthusiasm drags his bearded companion kicking and screaming into action - quite literally at times.

What follows is a breathless sequence of song, rhyme and brilliantly engineered one-liners.

There is partial interaction with the audience - it's far from pantomime (apart from the bit when they perform their own pantomime) - but there are enough sideways glances and impromptu quips to make us feel part of the process.

Ciaran's masterful grasp of accents - Brummie, Welsh, "northern" to name three - enable him to invent different characters in an instant.

Daniel's thick beard and wide eyes allow him in turn to be maniacal, fearful and full of hope and wonder.

The recreation of animated film Walking in the Air was an utter joy, with the pair "flying" hand-in-hand, while Ciaran's fixed facial expression as the snowman was perfection.

When he inevitably melted, Toby's horror left a lump in the throat, only to be overtaken by laughter when he wailed: "This happens EVERY year!"

A bout of charades (which did involve the audience) led seamlessly into Ciaran's hilarious take on the The Queen's Speech, in which he reflected upon England's successful World Cup this year: "It resulted in an unexpected semi, much like when Philip met Kate for the first time," he/she squawked mischievously.

There were numerous script changes from previous years in order to bring it up to date, with a humorous cap doff to the Chuckle Brother (s) and several wince-inducing references to Brexit.

The second half was full of song, with delightfully crafted lyrics and a Nativity play as its piece de resistance.

The whole thing - just under two hours from start to finish including an interval - is crammed with pathos, Christmas wistfulness and high octane fun.

Props include a toilet, a toilet seat, numerous toilet brushes, some toilet rolls - oh and a duvet (they're in a cell, what do you expect?).

With so many more performances over the festive period, I'm not sure I can wait another year before I drink it in again.

The company is travelling all over the south west in the next few weeks, but local dates to look out for are:

Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th December, 7:30pm

Old Bakery Studios, Truro, TR1 1QH

Box Office:

Friday 14th December, 7:30pm

The Acorn, Penzance, TR18 4BU

Box Office: 01736 363545 |

Wednesday 19th December, 7:30pm

Treviglas, Newquay, TR7 3JA

Box Office: 01726 879500 |

Thursday 20th, Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd, 7:30pm

The Poly, Falmouth, TR11 3EG

Box Office: 01326 319461 |

Thursday 27th December, 8pm

Old School Bar and Kitchen, Mount Hawke, TR4 8BA

Box Office: 01209 891609 |

For more information visit or follow them on facebook.