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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Boxing Day – Tin Shed Theatre Company

Freya has a Christmas to remember - just not in the picture-perfect way she planned.
By Hilary Simmons
September 19, 2011
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By Hilary Simmons
September 19, 2011
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Do you remember the first time you complained, "I hate Christmas?" If you've never said it, can you pinpoint precisely when the build-up and family politics began to give you mild panic attacks? At the very least, carol fatigue syndrome?

Chances are you weren't 10 years old. When you're 10, you're still in love with the Day itself (as well as counting down the days leading up to it). You've started to suspect that Santa Claus isn't really the red-suited sky ranger that you once thought, and realised that there are undeniable logistical problems with flying reindeer, pixies and elves. You may vaguely comprehend that the magic isn't in the man who drinks milk and eats cookies, it's in the spirit of togetherness. But you're still stubbornly clinging to the childish certainty that on the 25th of December, nobody fights, nothing goes wrong, and everyone is happy.

For 10-year old Freya (an effervescent Holly Austin), her dad's casual announcement that he may spend Christmas working on an offshore oil rig is devastating. It steels her determination that the limited number of days they do have together be extra perfect. Freya's family is pretty fractured — her Mum is dead, her widowed Nan is sweet but totally out of tune with the needs of a young girl, and her best friend Poppy is just a tad unadventurous. Life gets pretty boring in the Tasmanian seaside town of Rainwood for Freya — it's no wonder Christmas is a big deal. She even feigns joy when her dad gives her a vintage air rifle. But then her Dad and Nan start fighting, and a body washes up on the shore.

The set design of Boxing Day is simple and the stage is beautifully used. Co-presented by the Tamarama Rock Surfers, it is the first major work by Sydney-based Tin Shed Theatre Company, which writer Phil Spencer formed with the director, Scarlet McGlynn. It's hard to say too much about this coming-of-age story without giving away the ending. Suffice to say, there's a reason that it's called Boxing Day. Freya has a Christmas to remember — just not in the picture-perfect way she planned.

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