Review: A Christmas Fair

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The Milton Rooms, Malton

To get Jim Cartwright to write you a show, specifically for what is essentially a town hall, is a sign that you’re doing something right.

Garry Cooper and Nick Bagnall, artistic directors of The Milton Rooms are inspiring all kinds of good people to get behind their venture of turning this grand venue into a producing theatre and with this production they have earned a significant flagpole in their journey towards success. Cartwright, the man behind The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and a host of other major successes, has written A Christmas Fair to sit in The Milton Rooms. Rather than work against the space – that was not built for drama – he makes a virtue of it and writes a story around a fair that might easily be held in the building, selling crafts and bric-a-brac. Once he’s created the construct he places some very amusing tropes – a miserable caretaker, local busybody, a vicar – in the middle of the story. Cartwright sets up the characters before pulling the rug from under the audiences and inverting all expectations. The second act, monologue heavy, is a little leaden footed, but pays tribute to the craft of storytelling – an entirely fitting thing to do at this magical time of the year.

To December 23.