Review: Best Christmas Present in The World, Guildhall Square, Southampton

Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah

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The Nuffield Playing Field is an excellent pop-up theatre at the Guildhall Square in Southampton, and it was there that we braved the elements to see the latest production by Hampshire Youth Theatre.

Adapted by Oliver Birch from a Michael Morpurgo short story, it tells of the extraordinary events of Christmas Day 1914, and how they echo through to the modern day.

With precious little in the way of scenery (just movable wooden benches) and the clever use of masks, dance and song, this young cast managed to convey the loneliness and loss of this war, and weave this into the modern story.

There were times when the story got a bit confused; it was especially difficult to follow when the characters were wearing both modern clothes and 1914 battledress. Also, as this is an open air venue in the heart of a city, it was sometimes hard to hear the cast against the background noise.

That said, it was a clever and thought-provoking production, with some very good set pieces – particularly in the football scenes.