Plaid Tidings at Bridge House Theatre

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Plaid Tidings at Bridge House Theatre

If your Christmas spirit levels are low, or you’re not feeling quite full to the brim of holiday cheer, a trip to see Plaid Tidings is the perfect remedy for you. Bridge House Theatre have a reputation for picking the cream of the Christmas crop, and this show is no deviation from their pattern of smash hits.

In such an intimate setting, it would be incredibly easy to make an audience feel uncomfortable, especially with light interaction, but these four performers commit so unwaveringly to their characters, it instead a brilliantly warm atmosphere.

With such a strong introduction, Plaid Tidings won over the audience within the first minute. The scripting is excellently crafted, with just enough exposition for us to understand the basic plot, without losing the humour needed to keep such a small casted show moving. The characters are geeky, full of energy, and each one with different quirks. The accents are a trip to classic Hollywood in the 1960s and, with the exception of one or two phrases, absolutely faultless.

Plaid TidingsThe song choices from the first half could be considered odd, but the clear storytelling and excellent humour from the cast tied it all together superbly. Light on plot it may be, but big on heart. Speeches about Christmas spirit, and ‘loving those you’re with whilst you have the chance’ are oddly moving for such a lighthearted show, and ensure the more ‘ballad-y’ moments are really quite touching. I wanted more moments like these, partly because my cheeks hurt from smiling, but also because these felt by far the most Christmassy, and really pulled the audience together.

The exquisitely timed humour, the record-perfect harmonies, beautiful microphone technique, and relentless energy are the foundations of this show, and really deserve the highest praise. Without these, the show wouldn’t be nearly as remarkable as it is – for me that’s down to lack of content. The first half feels a little padded, and left me almost in anticipation of the second half, where I felt they perhaps would really get into it.

I wanted some ‘snippets’ to go on for longer so we could really appreciate the craftsmanship of composition that went into some of the songs. And yet some moments I felt were lost on me. As when watching an American TV comedy, I occasionally felt punchlines sailing over my head because of my own lack of reference point – mainly the Ed Sullivan montage, which was very highly impressive, but wasted on me.

Every voice was beautiful in it’s own right, and the blending of vocals was some of the best I’ve ever seen – or rather heard! When Smudge sang solo on stage by himself ‘to keep the show going’, he was cut short by the other Plaids – necessary for the show to continue – but I could’ve listened to him unaccompanied for an age.

The absolute highlight of the show for me was the inclusive medley, where they sung through Jewish songs, Hawaiian, Jamaican, and many more – changing lyrics to make the songs Christmassy. They asked for the audience to sing along – then just the women, just the men, then all but at a whisper! When finally the instruction came “now just think about it”, Jinx the pianist began to mime playing whilst the audience all continued to bob in time to the “music”.

I found myself joining others conversations, unable to keep to myself because of the lovely atmosphere, and noticed all through the theatre, people were talking to the strangers sat beside them, drinking hot Christmas mulled wine (or the Spiced Apple and rum which I’d recommend), laughing, and having a lovely festive time. And I think that image just about sums up the experience perfectly.

Review by Mims Melville.

Plaid Tidings is on at Bridge House Theatre until 23rd December.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Seussical at Southwark Playhouse and Dr Doolittle.


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