This weekend, I watched Sweetie Pie the Ice Fairy kick Donald Trump to death. In a Christmas show, for kids.
If you’re thinking this sounds too savage for the eyes of youngsters, don’t blame the performers. It was Showstoppers, an hour of improvised comedy, songs and all-round jollity. Children in the audience chose the setting, characters and plot. And yes, Donald Trump and the kicking were all down to them.
Unsurprising, really. Have you ever read The Lord of the Flies?
Christmas in Leicester Square features a cluster of stalls selling festive trinkets, as well as the Paradiso Spiegeltent, a heated space hosting performances for both children and adults. The Showstoppers will be performing their show there until 30 December. But don’t expect to witness the demise of Donald Trump if you do go along. Every performance is completely unique. The clever Olivier Award-winning team put together a performance tailored to the choices of the audience.
At the weekend, it was a joy to watch their seamless transitions. The show began with the friendly set of five actors throwing presents back and forth together with their banter. After a quick warm-up to get the audience into the habit of shouting (there was a lot of interaction, including children being invited on stage), the Showstoppers asked children to put up their hands and suggest a setting for the show’s plot. Space, a waterpark and a snow cave were all contenders, but it was an ice castle that roused the biggest voting cheer from the audience.
And so, it went on. Children put their hands up to introduce characters, and plot twists. With perfectly paced interaction between the audience and performers, the Showstoppers musicians launched into songs based on the audience’s choices. And all the cast sang in harmony to songs like “ice, ice, very very nice”. It was a remarkable act of stage jiggery pokery – you’d never have guessed that the music wasn’t timed to kick in at that very moment, or that at least some of the lyrics were constructed on the spot.
There were some stand-out performances, like Lauren Shearling’s Sweetie Pie the ice fairy (“oh Mr Trump, what lovely orange skin you have”), and Ruth Bratt’s Trump, whose quiff was suggested by a cardboard speech bubble, held flat on his head. If any fans of Donald Trump are concerned that this performance might have got a little out of hand, they should be reassured to know that, after the kicking sequence, the Showstoppers calmed things down a little by not taking audience suggestions for a while. Sweetie Pie was filled with remorse at having taken a life, and took a cleansing bath to rid herself of the pongy stench, brought into the castle by Mr Trump.
And Donald Trump was brought back to life by the healing water. As a very nice man, who loved bunnies.
I’d like to think that the Showstoppers couldn’t top our own show, for its comedy, drama and mayhem. But somehow, I think they just might be able to pull it off. If you do go to see them, let me know.
The Showstoppers’ Kids’ Christmas show is at Christmas in Leicester Square, London until 30 December 2017. Ticket prices start at £14.50.
For more on Christmas shows in London this year, check out our round-up of seasonal performances.
We were given tickets to the show for the purpose of this review. All views are my own.