Review: DIM Dong Merrily On High

The cast and crew of DIM have a drink before each show, understandably given what they need to do. In that spirit, I downed two shots of vodka before I watched the performance – and I enjoyed it immensely. (Note: DIM can be enjoyed sober). DIM is a collection of incredibly witty people who somehow manage to create hilarious stories on the spot, with help from the audience on title, location and the music. But make no mistake, the show is incredibly weird.

The ticket office was described as a Santa’s grotto, where there were free mince pies, “mulled apple juice” (non-alcoholic sadly) and Santa himself (or was it Rhys Rodrigues?) You enter the venue, the stage is brightly lit. Brussel Sprouts are strewn across one part of the stage. A fake Christmas tree that somehow still manages to look limp is in the corner.

The audience gave the actors a lot of potential stories to work with. Happily, they were all super insane. Rejected locations for the play include Bristol, on Santa’s Sleigh and under Santa’s Sleigh. Rejected songs include “Whip me with your candy cane” (it had been done yesterday), “Happy Hanukkah” and “Santa’s got no banter”. In the end we got a performance of “Mistletone Deaf” set inside a Christmas Turkey with the song “Escaping Santa’s Sweatshop”.

Fiona Southgate deserves praise for her hilarious interpretation of a Giblet villain, bitter and by far the most characterisation amongst any of the actors. A cartoon villain who you’ll love to hate. Sam Baumal also stepped up to the plate (haha – because it’s about Christmas dinner), being the only multi-role actor, playing both Parsnip and Miss Claus, and playing them excellently.

The cast on the whole worked well as a team, and were musically excellent considering the lyric improvisation is on the spot (Rosie Dart – also Santa – broke the 4th wall when she couldn’t find a lyric that rhymed). Santa himself played the piano for the event (but it miiight have been Rhys Rodrigues…) and he has the incredible talent of being able to play well with ad libbing actors for the entire show – but I guess he is magic.

I think part of the main attraction of DIM is watching the rough edges and tricky bits. Particularly cruel members of the cast asked other characters their name. We had such inventive on-the-spot titles as “Pigletty Blanketty” the pig in a blanket, and a parsnip called “Parsnip”. Another hilariously awful part of the show was the song “Mistletone Deaf”, duly sung completely out of tune. And it is not just the actors, mood changes were marked by very unsubtle lighting jumps – in sadness the stage would be suddenly washed in blue. However, it is not all so-bad-its-good, lots of the show is so-good-its-good, including the song “Christmas is about love, not incinerating your friends”.

Overall, DIM is an incredible feat, and an enjoyable night out. My night had romance, intrigue and a lot of Brussel Sprouts being thrown around. Every night is different though so it is always worth going, you will be shocked, surprised and laughing the whole time.

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