Friday, 4 December 2015

Elf and safety gone mad at the Bermondsey Christmas show - interview with Tim O'Hara

IF you go down to Bermondsey this Christmas you may come across an elf in a warehouse under the railway arches.
But who he may be and what exactly he's up to is something of a mystery. However all is set to be revealed in local theatre company Different Breed's Christmas production, The Night Before Christmas.
Written originally by Anthony Neilson, it is being staged by the four-strong cast and will take place at Gary's Warehouse in Druid Street, seven minutes walk from Bermondsey station.
It promises to be an antidote to traditional festive shows as it involves the elf trying to talk his way out of a hostage situation.
"It's going to be very funny, quite rude, very in your face and definitely not for kids," laughs Tim O'Hara.
“Staging the show under the arches will also make it very atmospheric which will add to the fun.”
The Bermondsey-based businessman, actor and company co-founder came up with the idea for doing the site specific show and has roped in some actor, writer and musician friends to help him out as well as some of the local traders.
“It’s going to be and feel like a real community show,” he says. “Bermondsey is really cool and I love living here.
"There is a strong cultural heritage but there is also a real mix of people from those who have lived here for a long time to those who are just moving in to the areas that are being regenerated.
“I liked the idea of doing something that might bring these groups together and mix things up a bit.
“I also wanted to do a show that was affordable for those who came to see it and involved some of the businesses in the area. So there will be food on offer from local market traders and beer from local breweries.
“My wife, who is a writer, and I didn’t have anything planned for December so we got to work to make it happen.
“The play is about a guy who sells knock off goods from a warehouse, but one night he finds an elf has broken in to the warehouse. He interrogates him because he doesn’t know if the elf has really fallen off Santa’s sleigh or if he’s a bit of a chancer. And it’s only at the end that everyone finds out the truth.
“It’s quite dark but wicked and essentially an anti panto so it will be something different and unlike the theatre you might otherwise go and see at this time of the year.
“It’s been a lot of fun to put together, the space is great, we've got secret Santa gifts, rude Christmas cards, an elf - what more could you want!”
As well as the hour long show those who come to see it will be encouraged to linger and mingle before and afterwards to have a drink and something to eat.
On certain nights the play will be followed by comedy from the likes of circuit favourites Marcel Lucont and Tina Turner Tea Lady and on other nights there will be a pub quiz.
"We have tried to keep the ticket price as low as possible because for us as long as everyone has a good time and it brings the community together a bit, that's the main thing," says Tim.
"Any profits will be ploughed back into next year's show which is exciting."

The Night Before Christmas is on at Gary's Warehouse,The Bottle Shop, Druid Street, Bermondsey from December 5 until December 19. Tickets from £15. Visit for tickets and full listings.

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