Written by Ian Nicholas and directed by Jason Moore, Meet Me for the Holidays is a charming festive treat, brimming with enthusiasm. The three actors – Seamus Newham as Nigel Cole, Adam Forrester as Alistair Gable and finally Luke Mazzamuto in the joint roles of Mr Altman and Jimmy – deliver confident performances that tell a sweet story about a fading department store that has fallen victim to online shopping and the demise of high street retail in general. So in a last ditch attempt to get the customers in with their children, the annual Father Christmas is hired, played by Newham with a belligerent nonchalance that is pure comedy gold. Newham’s wit shines through as he has to put on a well-worn Santa costume that stinks of the previous wearers and has the stains to prove it.
Partnered by Forrester, who has played the Elf for the last eight Christmas seasons, the banter between them is on point and rather poignant at tines, even when Nicholas as the writer of this, raises the subject of homophobia. The script is packed with great one-liners especially from Cole and his approach to the role to emphasise his character’s fear of failure and self-loathing, is very stylish. This is a play made up of well-crafted vignettes where the subjects of over-consumption, materialism and that seasonal festivities come at a price are well reported on.
Forrester is a huge Judy Garland fan and his favourite movie is Meet Me in St Louis, and when he explains to Cole abut being thrown out of his house for being gay and that bursting into song can help him forget his troubles, the pathos of this is wonderful.
Mazzamuto in the joint roles of store manager Mr Altman and then as Jimmy is also very good, adding an extra layer to the story. There are magical moments in this as Cole realises that Christmas is a special time of year. Of course this is a nod to A Christmas Carol but that is easily forgiven as all three actors gel and bounce off each other which made for a good ensemble piece that highlights the need for empathy, finding common ground and mutual respect with your fellow man at this time of year.
Utterly delightful and with mince pies and mulled wine on offer, who could resist?