A review of the Siege of Christmas at Contact, Manchester

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Our commissioning editor Rhonda Carrier takes her sons to help rescue the Spirit of Christmas.

If you’ve never been chased out of a theatre foyer by a pair of angry mince pies or cried at by an unhappy Christmas cracker, but you have a taste for the surreal, you need snap up tickets for one of the last remaining performances of The Siege of Christmas.

A unique collaboration between Manchester venue Contact (a theatre and arts venue that focuses on young people aged 13-30 and puts them at the heart of all their decision-making) and Slung Low (which specialises in ‘adventures outside conventional theatre spaces’), The Siege takes over Contact’s own strange, castle-like modern building in Manchester’s University Quarter.

Part of the new breed of immersive theatre, it explores the venue itself, taking you behind the scenes into spaces the audience wouldn’t normally get to see – interesting in itself. At points you get to join in the action – pulling crackers, dancing, or being entrusted with fairy dust to give the fairies back their wings.

Modern tech (each member of the audience gets their own set of headphones) adds to the excitement, while the young actors – including a muscly man dressed as an elf and then later a fairy, a girl playing a melting snowman – thrown themselves into their changing roles.

It’s a fun, inventive and quirky evening’s entertainment, although it felt quite short at only around 45 minutes. My nine-year-old rated it 9/10, my 13-year-old 7.5/10 – it’s aimed at all ages over five but I’d say it’s best for those 11 and under.

The Seige of Christmas at Contact runs until 20th December 2017. Tickets £13, or £5 for under-10s.

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