Christmas Cracker – The Black Box
December 31, 2011 Laura Caldwell 0 Comments
The Black Box in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is one of my all time favourite venues and I like to go and support it as much as possible. So when I heard that they were holding a so called ‘Christmas Cracker’, I gathered up my family and headed out.
Suffice to say that none of us really knew what to expect, however we had gone to the previous two years Pigeon and Plum’s Vaudeville Circus and this event featured many of the same performers. The Black Box itself lives up to its name very well, the main room is literally a black box, yet it had been transformed into a veritable wonderland of winter-ness. Paper decorations and tinsel hung from every possible space and a dozen or so tables had been set up across the floor. Christmas music was playing and guests were greeted by mulled wine and a man wearing a ridiculous wig and pink dress…this was going to be an interesting night.
The mood was high and the stage was adorned with christmas decorations galore, it was made up to look like an old 70’s style living room, complete with an easy chair, a christmas tree and presents. As we took our seats and sipped at our mulled wine the room began to fill up and it was announced that the hog roast was ready. Yes, you heard, a delicious hog roast. So after we had all eaten our weight in pork and crackling the show was ready to begin…
We were greeted by the charming ‘Miss Candy Cane’ who sang a selection of christmas songs including Jingle Bells and All I Want For Christmas Is You. Next up on stage was our host, Ron Crackling who wore a festive Christmas jumper and dodgy toupee. Ron was quite the character and his cheeky smile and sarcastic banter won the audience over instantly, it was clear that everybody was here for a good time.
The Christmas Cracker is basically a tongue-in-cheek variety show which doesn’t take itself too seriously. Each performer has their own unique personality which is always as entertaining (if not more so) than the act which they are performing. The performers made good use of all of the Black Box’s facilities, using a projector to display a short filmed skit of Ron running all around town looking for presents, this was an unexpected treat and added to the enjoyment over all.
However, I did get the impression that the Christmas theme wasn’t a strict one, as the next performance was a hula hooping spacewoman and ‘blue blob’ (a woman in a blue morph suit who crawled around the stage grinning maniacally while staring at the spacewoman). This didn’t matter though, as the audience was practically crying with laughter at this surreal scene. As an added bonus, the hula hooping was very impressive too.
Another particularly poignant, yet surreal moment is when Ron and a man wearing a David Bowie mask (and curtain/cape) dueted on Little Drummer Boy, both of which gave it stacks. Other performances included a sexy christmas burlesque dancer, a lot more singing and a rather impressive escapology act.
Next, the part we’d all been waiting for, the prizes for the ‘best Christmas jumper’ competition. The audience had donned their craziest knits and we saw some spectacular options including one which featured Santa’s legs hanging out of a chimney. The winners however where a couple with matching his and hers jumpers (see below).
My personal highlight of the whole night is when the entirety of the cast gathered on stage in order to participate in a rendition of East 17’s classic Christmas song Stay Another Day. Some of the older members obviously didn’t know the words, but everyone gave it their all regardless, dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. It was definitely one of the funniest things I have seen all year. It’s hard to describe The Christmas Cracker to someone who wasn’t there, descriptions really don’t do it justice at all. It’s one of those ‘you had to be there’ events and I urge everyone to go next year, as it’s definitely been the highlight of mine.