We all dream of finding something a little extra under the tree on Christmas morning, but what happens when you get more than you bargained for, and your special gift helps you realise what you wanted all along? The Boy Under The Christmas Tree is the ridiculously funny new play written and directed by Glenn Chandler, who has had recent successes at Edinburgh Fringe with Lord Dismiss Us and Kids Play, and runs at The King’s Head Theatre over the festive season.
It’s set to be a lonely Christmas for part-time comic Lawrence, he’s going through a divorce, and without Brandon by his side he’s avoided the family carol singing, and opted to spend the big day drinking cheap wine in his Battersea flat. But waking up with a hangover he finds a surprise under the tree, a naked(ish) boy! Who is he? How did he get in? Where are his clothes? So many questions.
And a good chunk of the first half is made up of those very questions, the boy himself can only fill in a few of the blanks, but Lawrence is supported in his quest for the truth by a series of ‘visitations’, the doctor neighbour, a police man and even a very northern Santa Claus. Ultimately though it is the boy under the tree who provides Lawrence with the realisation of what he really wants for Christmas.
It’s utter silliness, but remarkably funny. While we spend a little too long listening to The Boy being questioned by various means, the ‘visitations’ bring a new comedy dynamic to each scene, where Lawrence and The Boy play it straight, each visitor seems to ham it up to the next extraordinary level. Of course, as is Glenn Chandler’s speciality there is more than one twist in the tale, and it becomes apparent why each caller had to be more outlandish than the last.
Jamie Loxton and Daniel Grice form a strong dynamic as Lawrence and The Boy, developing a very natural rapport with each other, in one particular scene involving Jelly Babies and paper missiles, I still can’t decide whether the whole thing was improvised or just very well written. It may be Lawrence who aspires to be a stand-up comedian, but all the comedy comes from Sam Sheldon playing those gloriously over the top visitors. It feels like Sheldon has walked straight off the set of a Carry On film, from his saucy doctor to the incompetent policeman, he’ll have you in hysterics with his own particular brand of humour.
The Boy Under The Christmas Tree is certainly a festive delight, frivolous and care free to the point of ridiculousness, but appropriately crafted for its target audience. It also teaches us two valuable lessons; firstly, it’s not what’s under the tree that matters, but who you’re around it with. And secondly, don’t drink cheap wine this Christmas, especially if it smells like Santa’s boots!