Camp as Christmas – Bare Productions

Produced by Dominic Lewis & Mark Wilson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This Motley crew, the Bare Productions lot, are without question one of Edinburgh’s finest rag-tag ensemble of amateur performers – and in the kindest way possible we use ‘amateur’ with gritted teeth. Camp as Christmas decks itself in the tacky tinsel and harks to the herald angels as it shines a light on some of the cities rising stars with prosperous futures. 

A medley of sorts, Bare Productions structure their performance as a cabaret which weaves from sketches and skits into numerous vocal performances. Hosted by JoVid themselves, Jo Heinemeier and David Doherty make the show and string together these individual segments with tremendous vigour and charm. Like a nice chaser of Baileys, The pair are sensationally easy-going, their chemistry eye-catching and holds the audience from the offshoot. Gradually introducing fellow members of Bare Productions, quips and delving into their very own Taskmaster interludes, Heinemeier and Doherty set things off to a splendid start.

There’s a surprising run-time, and a complimentary drink and toilet break, while also cramming in the extensive array of performers, and this does take a toll for the unprepared. Padding does creep its way into the show, often unnecessary in the ad-libbing between our hosts. Far from unpleasant, these moments are entertaining and natural but come across less as structured material and more additional behind-the-scenes extra for the production.

It does, however, demonstrate Bare Production’s open nature and, for lack of a better term, friendly demeanour. Nothing about Camp for Christmas comes over as forced or contrite, even with the various hints dropped for their upcoming production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert – storming the stage in 2021 after a busted tire derailed their 2020 run. These snippets of the upcoming show demonstrate the capabilities of the group, with a minor taster offering more than enough to salivate crowds and hopefully, and likely, drive audiences aboard the big glittery bus in the new year.

But of course, it isn’t truly a festive special without some fun and games. Interactive, Camp as Christmas comes with the addition of drinking games, Bingo and a complimentary interactive pack to join along at home. There are also a few social actions audiences can indulge in over Facebook to interact with Bare Productions and get themselves involved. Extra points to those who decide to sing-along with the covers of classics such as Driving Home for Christmas or All I Want for Christmas is You.

On the subject song, it’s a legal requirement for a musical number every 186 seconds in a festive showcase, and Camp as Christmas is filling the quota in droves. It’s a Quality Street tin, but luckily, they turn out a few more purple ones and green triangles than that toffee penny. Snippets erupt where vocals stretch into realms of forcing notes to convey emotion or dedication, an easy move to make but devalues the merit of authenticity and pitch. This isn’t true for all and isn’t even true for most – as Charlotte Jones and Andrew Gardiner remind audiences of why Bare Production’s previous stage outings have been tremendous successes.

Take Zoe Brookes, whose heartwarming rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Christmas is borderline recording ready and exudes control and understanding of where to reserve the notes and not play-up for the camera. It’s a simple piece, which fits in well as the show rolls to a conclusion, and demonstrates Mark Wilson’s choice editing of the special, maintaining a steady flow between acts and not overloading Camp as Christmas with too much fluff or effect.

Bare Production’s Camp as Christmas is a wee Christmas cracker of a show; complete with painful jokes, frivolities & games and a few choice bangs – all they’re missing is a cheap paper hat. It captures the pulse of a group of people recognising the potential loneliness of a Christmas without loved ones and reaches out to those in and out of the arts to come together in celebrating the kitch, the cheesey and the oh so wonderfully campy.

Runs until December 13th, and tickets for Camp as Christmas can be found here


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