Basement’s playful Santa Claus delights its audience

As you enter the Basement Theatre to watch its annual Christmas spectacular you are greeted by the A Slightly Isolated Dog troupe, ready and waiting to adorn you with tinsel, reindeer ears and all things Christmassy as they begin their brand new show, Santa Claus. Using their flawlessly funny French accents they ask you questions about your personal Christmas experiences – little do you know those answers may come back to haunt you later in the show, and if you’ve opted for the “Santa Upgrade” be careful what you write in your letter to the ol’ Claus!

“In the little town of Auckland, naughtiness has taken over and Santa’s ready to take the law into his own hands. Which list are you on? Did you buy caged eggs? Park in a disabled parking spot? Vote for a party that got less than five percent in the general election? Then you better watch out. Because Santa Claus is coming to The Basement, and it’s either good tidings, or a total Christmassacre.”

After our informal greeting and introduction to the various troupe members (Hayley Sproull, Jack Buchanan, Andrew Paterson and Susie Berry,), the show begins suddenly with some Christmas tales and over the next hour and a half we are treated to singing, dancing, improv comedy and in classic Basement tradition a celebrity guest (who’ll change every night). For this night’s show, the audience got to giggle and cheer the host of Radio Live’s ‘Morning Talk’ Mark Sainsbury, who was pronounced with the one-off nickname “moustachioed sex god”. The titular role of Santa Claus begins with Mark and is then passed around to various audience members as the show progresses, this DIY costume is cleverly automated and controlled by various members of the cast with quick wit and hilarity.

Audience participation was a highlight of the show with at least a dozen audience members playing integral parts at various times, I myself played the role of one of Santa’s reindeer (watch out for those antlers!). Thanks to its interactive nature the performance definitely relies heavily on a willing, fun-loving audience, so if you’re not easily embarrassed and fancy dabbling in the arts this is a winner for you. As a production Santa Claus is on point; it encompasses all the best of classic pantomime, an interesting and well-planned narrative and even a few sing along songs sprinkled throughout. As with Slightly Isolated Dog’s previous show Don Juan, the team use lighting and sound effects wonderfully with many being utilized to create enjoyable mini sketches throughout.

Other celebs booked to take to the Basement’s Christmassy stage are Amanda Billing, Antonia Prebble, Chlöe Swarbrick, Claire Chitham, Dave Fane, Fasitua Amosa, Jaquie Brown, James Roque, Jarod Rawiri, Jennifer Ward Lealand, Jesse Griffin, Laura Daniel, Lily McManus, Madeleine Sami, Miriama Kamo, Oliver Driver, Te Radar, Tom Sainsbury, Urzila Carlson with more to be announced.

If you’re excited to start your Christmas celebrations, ready to don some sparkly decorations and looking for a truly hilarious night out then the only question is – have you been naughty or nice?

Santa Claus is playing at the Basement Theatre until 20th December.

Reviewed by Lindsey Catherine