The Southwark Experience

Photo: Safavi PR

To me, the epitome of culture is going to see a small-scale show in an intimate setting with a belly full of wholesome street food – and Southwark delivers exactly this, all within walking distance! The Southwark Playhouse was established 25 years ago with wonderful intentions: to nurture creativity and promote social cohesion through drama while supporting new and emerging theatre talent. They work with 14-25-year-olds to encourage careers in the arts and engage with over 5,000 school pupils every year through free school performances, as well as providing long-term in-school curriculum aid.

Their Christmas production The Night Before Christmas is a beautiful parody of the famously calm and enchanting poem. In this modern twist plenty is stirring as Gary tries to please everybody this Christmas while dealing with an intrusion not from Santa, but one of his elves! As three adults attempt to comprehend the prank behind the small man in front of them with a tool bag and boots that jingle, the demanding issues surrounding love, money and happiness become unavoidably apparent. The simplicity of four actors in a single, well-structured set emphasises the sickening consumerist nature of Christmas that we cannot escape from as we become adults. The brilliant absurdity of the show is described as a mixture between South Park and Miracle on 34th Street by way of Scrooged – an amusing and interesting amalgamation that shouldn’t be missed! The contrast of a bleak warehouse setting with the vibrancy of the festive spirit highlights the devastating reality that Christmas just isn’t as exciting as you get older – however, producer Anthony Neilson offers a clever explanation for this loss of excitement which is ironically even more appealing to adults!

Whether you prefer to eat before or after the show, the hidden food market almost directly opposite the theatre caters for everyone with nearly 30 food and drink vendors! This vast array of choice includes gluten-free and vegan options. After much difficult contemplation, I opted for truffle mushroom on chestnut tagliatelle and was not disappointed! The Mercato Metropolitano promotes sustainability by using local merchants and suppliers to produce a short value chain which ultimately supports global health and wellbeing. They employ small-scale farmers and members of the local community to work towards regenerating the local areas, producing more jobs, local spaces and business for smaller companies – and all you have to do to support them is sample some of their delicious food!

Southwark Playhouse is all about sharing stories and inspiring the next generation of theatre-makers. It aims to facilitate the work of fresh, emerging theatre practitioners from early in their creative lives to the start of their professional careers. They are hoping to secure a permanent base from which to help even more aspiring talent and are ensuring that you also benefit in supporting them! Their Two Million Pound Wall project is an innovative initiative whereby donating money to their cause buys you a permanent space on their new premises to showcase your own artwork! The Night Before Christmas is running until December 29th and is only £16 for concessions. But even if you can’t catch this one, watch out for their other performances to help support youth in arts!

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