Entertainment

Review: Grimes & McKee Christmas send up misses their own high standards

By their own very high standards, the latest Grimes & McKee Christmas outing misses the mark

Alan McKee, Conor Grimes and Nicky Harley in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER
Alan McKee, Conor Grimes and Nicky Harley in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER Alan McKee, Conor Grimes and Nicky Harley in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER

Review

Grimes &McKee's Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas

Lyric Theatre

Until January 6

I AM normally a great fan of Grimes & McKee and their brand of humour. I remember laughing helplessly at their previous Christmas outing at the Lyric Theatre with the brilliant Alastairs sketch, the old guy flogging overpriced stuff, the sociologically hilarious material based on Northern Irish society. And the brilliant musical spoofs, including the folk group doing dual language versions of banal observational songs. "Quiet now," went McKee; "Whisht," went Grimes in the supposed Irish translation.

But their new Christmas show, Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas, was a pretty lamentable let down. It was a spoof tale of fraud and ghosts and English aristocratic traditions with a bit of Blithe Spirit and that Alastair Sim movie about his ancestors thrown or rather tossed in.

One woman who had enjoyed the first half said the 55 minutes had seemed rather long. Yes, about a week long, to be honest...

Ali White and Alan McKee in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER
Ali White and Alan McKee in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER Ali White and Alan McKee in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER

The problem was Grimes & McKee had taken a whole load of material, mixed it and come up with a smorgasbord of stuff that wasn't consistent in terms of plot, characterisation and plausibility.

Ironically the real issue was that I'm not sure they were clear about what was being sent up. For a decent example of something hitting the target, in his case blood and thunder Victorian bodice-rippers, Michael Palin's Ripping Yarns in the 70s are the template.

Although there were entertaining moments. It started on a dark and stormy night – of course it did – with big sound effects, and we met the dramatis personae, namely Alan McKee's heir Toby, the dodgy antique dealer who was fairly convincingly posh English.

Read more:

  • Grimes and McKee bring their GAA comedy St Mungo's to the small screen
  • Grimes and McKee's Bah Humbug! a Belfast Christmas Carol with a 'really scary dance'
  • The Lyric Theatre launches a programme full of festive fun this Christmas

His fiancée Nancy Nugent, the fake TV medium, was in Ali White's hands winningly also dodgy. Then there was Ciara, played by Nicky Harley with pugnacious enthusiasm. Conor Grimes played the hapless help well, and was also an inexplicable monk.

Conor Grimes and Ali White in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER
Conor Grimes and Ali White in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER Conor Grimes and Ali White in Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas at the Lyric Theatre. PICTURE: JOHNNY FRAZER

Musically, it was fun, with versions of Tempted from the great Squeeze, Abba's Money, Money, Money and Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive. The audience sang the original lyrics, although they'd been rewritten.

Directed by Frankie McCafferty, with a nice set, Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas made one realise how good Midsomer Murders and genre shows are. It ain't that easy to pull off.

:: Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas is at the Lyric Theatre until January 6. lyrictheatre.co.uk

Jane Hardy