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16 December 2011
Theatre review: Copyright Christmas

Jane Czyzselska: DIVA

If the retailers had their way they'd make every day Christmas day so they could fleece us in the generally soul-less fashion you'll experience on the high street at this time of year. The endless queueing, false smiles and even falser promises are enough to drive anyone, even a skeptic, to an Indian Ashram. It's a sheer work of brilliance then that the Duckie collective - all 20 of them - manage to transform this disorienting nightmare into a fun, irreverent and thought-provoking spectacle.

As with their previous Xmas shows at the Barbican, Copyright Christmas is interactive and invites spectators to promenade with members of the cast to ten different points in the labyrinthine set. Here we're invited to a corporate responsibility venture led by comically bored staff. (I particularly loved the posters proclaiming 'recyling is ethical', 'recycling is healthy' and one with a scantily clad woman bending over a bin which read 'recycling is sexy'). Dickie Beau brilliantly reminds those of us who were royally duped as kids by the Santa story that it's possible to get your own back, even as a little person.

Bird La Bird is genial in her alter ego 'Birdie Allslop' the brains behind the Opus Job Boutique and asks "Why go to the trouble of finding a job when you can buy the job of your dreams?". As we are led, provoked and entertained around and about, within Robin Whitmore's brilliant set, we pass through shelves full of IKEA-esque boxes labelled Slapdash, Sloppi and Papp and when we come to the finale, sinister store manager Carol (Scottee) sings a West End-worthy show stopper as she presides over an anarchic and inspired ending.

Copyright Christmas is a brilliant antidote to the worst seasonal excesses. Make sure you arrive early so you can take in the delightful stalls in the foyer - Duckie's Christmas Market takes place throughout December.

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