Including Magic Theatre, We Will Rock You and Queer Theory
Late November and December can be a tough month for regular theatre audiences immune to the charms of the pantomime: attempts to add a post-modern spin to its romantic tales of good's inevitable triumph aside, the creaking comedy and dubious gender politics don't always replace the bracing energy of intense, provocative theatre. Fortunately, there are a few alternatives available across Scotland this holiday season.
Magic Theatre A mixture of digital media and live art, Jian Yi's personal study of 'queer/East Asian/diaspora heartbreak' draws on Artaud's notions around the theatre of cruelty and butoh – and is spiced by visuals from Cryptic associate Robbie Thomson. Promising a psychotropic experience, it's less 'he's behind you' than 'desire is keep within you'. CCA, Glasgow, Thu 21–Fri 22 Nov; Summerhall (as part of Anatomy), Fri 13 Dec.
Strange Tales Grid Iron join with the Traverse to adapt stories from China's past through puppetry and movement. Aiming for a world 'poised between East and West', directors Pauline Lockhart and Ben Harrison bring to life stories that have a surprisingly contemporary resonance and a mysterious immersive quality. Traverse, Edinburgh, Sat 30 Nov–Sat 21 Dec.
It's A Wonderful Life! A Christmas classic, unashamedly sentimental but owing more to the spirit of 'Goodwill to All Men' than 'Buy a Load of Plastic Rubbish for Ungrateful Relatives'. It's the familiar tale of how one man can make a difference, and Floating Brick Theatre insist that its message retains meaning in the age of social media. And there is a free voucher for a mince pie included in the ticket price. Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Sun 15–Sat 21 Dec (not Fri 20).
We Will Rock You Although most pantomimes have a better script – Ben Elton's shameless book has not been sufficiently criticised for stringing together the tunes through a plot that appears to have borrowed from a Canadian prog-rock concept album – this jukebox musical has a high tech scenography, bouncing choreography and some familiar tunes from the most famous band in the world to feature a badger-defending astronomer on guitar. Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Mon 9–Sat 28 Dec.
Queer Theory Getting away from the pristine theatres, Queer Theory happens in a club, profers a variety of cabaret-inspired acts that celebrate the wild and the anarchic. From music through to live art, and usually with a touch of drag and some satirical humour, this monthly session has been flying its freak flag for over two years and gathering its own ferocious and funny identity and energy. Nice'n'Sleazy, Glasgow, Wed 11 Dec.