The Boy Under the Christmas Tree, the latest from Glenn Chandler, has the expected twists and turns of plot at which he excels. I was disappointed that some of the early dialogue lacks his usual finesse, but there are still many funny lines.
Jamie Loxton gives us a hungover, embittered, unsuccessful comic in Lawrence Bennett. Even though he is playing hungover, I would have liked more drive and punch to his performance. Daniel Grice is fittingly naïve as the Boy, I would have liked it to be clearer if he was a blank canvas to be written upon or if he would learn to make his own choices. Some of his gestures suggested one way, some the other. Sam Sheldon plays a variety of characters with varying success. He seems to have selected elements from established character actors but has not yet made them his own. Less could be more in his caricatures, as his understated final character shows.
Chandler has not directed his play to its best advantage and could have guided his cast more clearly to emphasise some elements and tone others down. The sightlines are not perfect at the Kings Head, so he could have avoided action low down or on the floor. I could not see the jelly baby shooting and am not sure what it added.
I am sure that the performers will settle into the run and deliver a more balanced show. There are some delightful fantasy moments which show great potential. In the spirit of Christmas, this is worth giving 80 minutes to, and if you relax into the fun, you should happily entertained.