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Anti-Christmas

15 November 2015 | Chris Mugan

We’ve brought you our guide to an alternative Christmas in London as well as a Top Five of alternative Christmas theatre, but for some that’s not going far enough. Here is a range of events to keep the Christmas haters happy(-ish). Bah, Humbug!

Christmas is upon is, it seems earlier every year, time for slavish consumerism and over-indulgence. Stores are bursting with expensive baubles and unnecessary tat given mark-ups after being covered in fake snow or glitter.

Central London streets are even more impassable than usual, crowded with shoppers blocking your way with bulging bags, and everywhere you look are dispiriting novelties – pointless lights and window displays, seasonal sandwiches and every spare acre repurposed as ice-rinks or festive markets. Thankfully, there are a handful of places where you can avoid this period of strained goodwill. Here is where Grinches can relax in peace.


A Christmas Carol, Noel Coward Theatre

Bah, Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge is One of Charles Dickens's finest creations, a stalwart Londoner and self-made businessman with just the right attitude to this annual waste of time and energy. The brilliant Jim Broadbent plays the miserable miser in a brand new production by Patrick Barlow, himself behind a hit adaptation of The 39 Steps. Entertainment guaranteed, then, though - spoiler alert - for wannabe Scrooges there is no happy ending. You might want to bail after your hero meets his third ghost.

For more information and to book tickets, see website.


Brian And Robin's Christmas Compendium of Reason, Hammersmith Apollo

This event may have the C-word in its title, but only because comedian Robin Ince and superstar boffin Professor Brian Cox have found cunning ways to make science and rational thought entertaining and accessible. An off-shoot of their radio series Infinite Monkey Cage, the pair's annual live event is a variety show with purpose, bringing together musicians, stand-up comics and scientists to celebrate enlightenment.

Line-ups are subject to change, but guest performers have included actor Hugh Grant, singing astronaut Chris Hadfield and out-of-this-world comedian Ross Noble. Last year brought a surprise set from maudlin veterans The Cure, with all proceeds going to charities such as Médecins Sans Frontières UK and the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. We may generally lack festive cheer, but can still support a worthwhile cause.

For more information and to book tickets, see website.


The Night Before Christmas, Gary's Warehouse

Fed up of non-entity celebrities treading the boards and reciting bad jokes? This anti-pantomime could be the answer: it features an elf (or someone claiming to be one) sneaking into a warehouse and taking a hostage. Suitable for ages 15+, this dark tale comes with beer (after all, it is staged in Bermondsey, home of London's craft brewing), food and swearing. Plus rubbish secret Santa gifts and rude greetings cards so everyone can feel disappointed.  After Saturday shows, the promoters even throw in live comedy.

For more information and to book tickets, see website.


Feeling Gloomy, The Phoenix, Cavendish Square

If you need an antidote to the desperation of office parties and interminable novelty hits from Slade and Mud, head to the monthly night for miserablists run by downbeat duo Leonard and Cliff in the basement dive of this West End pub. The concept is to pick sad tunes to dance to, from Roy Orbison and the Rolling Stones to The Smiths and Pulp. At their Blue Christmas special, “Forget all this joy to the world malarkey and join team Gloom... as we mope about everything festive.”

For more information and to book tickets, see website.


Negative Christmas, 12 Bar Club

For a more cathartic dancefloor experience, this north London successor to the historic Soho venue hosts grunge night Negative Creep's grinchy hoedown. Bands are yet to be confirmed, but the promoters promise live music alongside DJs Mark13, Phil Roadkill and Negative Sam's grunge and nineties alternative selections, with classic sulky anthems from Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. What better way to forget Christmas than by channelling your rage via Jane's Addiction, Pixies and Bikini Kill. Have an Unmerry Christmas.

For more information and to book tickets, see website.

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