The Grotto, 4 Stars

The Grotto
The Drayton Arms Theatre
13th to 30th Dec 2022

“Merry Christmas… you pr*cks!

Leyla & Pete work in a Santa’s Grotto.

Leyla & Pete have lost their Christmas spirit. Leyla & Pete, if we’re honest, didn’t really have any to begin with.Shackled together only a few months after their relationship came to an end, they are paid a visit by an impish & irreverent Christmas angel, bestowed upon them to help rediscover their lost Christmas spirit…or so he says!! Together, Leyla and Pete must face a series of ghastly, gruesome and inconveniently Christmassy challenges as they desperately attempt to save their wretched souls. The world premiere of this lightning paced, laugh-aminute Christmas comedy-horror is sure to be the most unique Christmas show in town! Directed by award-winning Matthew Parker and featuring the award-winning Laurel Marks & Toby Hampton, we disrespectfully invite you to abandon your tradition and revel in the gore of this dark & delicious comedy treat.”

Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars

A curved back wall brings The Grotto forwards and towards the audience, adorned with decorations fitting Santa’s Christmas Grotto. With a decorated Christmas tree, fireplace and throne for Santa, it’s the final day for the Grotto to bring cheer to the last few children coming to sit on Santa’s knee and receive a gift.

Staffed by Toby Hampton (Santa/Pete) and Laurel Marks (Leyla), Leyla is left to start taking the Grotto down while Santa goes outside for a smoke. The Fairy on the Christmas Tree startles Leyla as it takes on a life-form of it’s own, in voice only, and initiates a campaign of terror against Leyla and Pete in an attempt to restore their Christmas spirit.

The Fairy is several puppets and a backstage voice-over (Bryan Pilkington) and the production is pre-loaded with plenty of sound clips, sound and lighting effects, and here is where the skilled stage manager operator (Summer Keeling) should take a huge well-deserved bow. It’s a busy show and the timing was flawless.

With a cadaver dropping in, a scalpel, and some internal organ manipulation there is blood on Leyla’s hands, literally, which she wipes on Pete’s face. A few lies about promiscuity in an attempt by Leyla to restore sexual interest from Pete, a pregnancy, and relationship issues also surface during the fairy entrapment.

It’s a bit of a bonkers show with appeal to fans of comedy horror gore, all well put together by Matthew Parker. It may not have basis in a true story, or portray any societal issue, but the audience found it very entertaining.

Photo Credit: Cam Harle

Cast: Leyla: Laurel Marks, Pete: Toby Hampton, The Angel: Bryan Pilkington
Creatives: Director: Matthew Parker, Stage Manager: Summer Keeling, Production Manager: Gianluca Zona

Tickets link: Click here


Trigger/content warnings: Blood & bad language, Sudden Loud Noises

Drayton Arms Theatre 153 Old Brompton Road London SW5 0LJ