Grimes and McKee: Christmas Craic-er, Theatre Review, Saturday December 3rd, 2022

By Conor O’Neill

Photography courtesy of Carrie Davenport

For those with a wicked sense of humour, centred squarely in the North of Ireland, or Northern Ireland – depending on your personal preference? – the Grimes and McKee’s Christmas Craic-er is the only show in town. With pantos raging all around us, the idea of another night of, ‘He’s behind you!’ and ‘Oh no it isn’t!’, and the thought of a hundred screaming kids is enough for anyone less than a saint. Thankfully, on the eight day the big man upstairs created satire.

The set-up is fairly straight forward, a Christmas Craic-er is a simple sketch show. And knocking in around the two hour mark including a 20-minute interval – Grimes and McKee fit in a lot of material in that time. Accompanied with their regular resident musician Rod McVey on the keyboards, the pair are away. There’s not even a set required; the set of The Snow Queen, which runs before this 8pm show, is behind them and apart few costume changes, props and their own vivid imaginations, all that’s needed here is a willing audience.

They’ve some new characters and a few oldies resurrected from last year’s show. My, and seemingly the audience’s, favourites being the two workmen, the pair of old-guard Ulster rugby fans, the salesmen from a nondescript TV shopping channel selling ‘self-illuminating, self-inflating, outdoor, indoor six ‘fut’ reindeer’ and the cherry on the top, the Priest versus Pastor’s recollection of the nativity scene. Grimes in an ecclesiastical tone: ‘There was no room in the inn.’ McKee in pure Ballymoney accent: ‘The yon place was packed to the rafters!’ Maybe not so good on paper but the 300 plus of us in the seats lapped up every moment.

Just a wee note to potential viewers, this sort of comedy will not travel far. It’s Northern Irelan centric. Jamie Bryson, local politicians, the Christmas market, the new Primark and the Nolan Show, to name but a few, all get a mention. I imagine if you were to bring someone from outside our wee country along, they’d be scratching their head for most of the gig. But here-in lies its beauty. These two make no pretences to highfaluting comedy. It’s based on knowing your audience, sharp writing and nifty comedic acting.

For more information visit http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or simply phone the box office on 02890 381081

A Christmas Craic-er runs up to and including December 30th, 2022

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