Last night I had the opportunity to see one of my favourite on-screen father figures – the inimitable Jim Broadbent – on stage for the bargain price of £10 thanks to an exceptionally lucky friend ordering us tickets at just the right time. Thank you Sophie!
In keeping with the season we went to see the man himself star in Dickens’ Christmas classic – A Christmas Carol. The tale is retold annually on television where we are reminded that the true meaning of Christmas is to love and be loved and that material possessions mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. (A little ironic then that top price tickets to learn this valuable lesson at the Noel Coward theatre won’t even give you enough change for a coffee from £100. But I digress.)
The ensemble cast are small in number at only 7 but mighty in talent. Led by Broadbent as the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge each actor assumes multiple roles and lightning fast costume changes with ease. Scrooge himself is eerily reminiscent of the man everybody but the Daily Mail loves to hate – Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne – and the script makes various unveiled digs at the bankers who have gleefully crippled the UK economy in pursuit of their own happiness.
Set design is brilliant – it purposefully looks a little on the tired and shoddy side but I found it really endearing and I particularly enjoyed the way each scene changes like pages turning in a book. There’s clever use of puppetry to carry our protagonist across time and the costumes and styling are exactly the high standard you’d expect from a West End production.
The first half of the show is executed brilliantly with only a few minor hiccups – a labrador-like nephew better suited to panto and an appallingly executed Irish accent from Scrooge’s former flame aside – it motored along at a great pace, holding my interest even though I already knew the story’s ending, I was thoroughly entertained.
The second half started with a jolt when we meet The Ghost of Christmas Present – she reminded me of someone you might meet on the bus after a night out; chattering loudly to anyone that’ll listen at ten miles a minute, machine gun laughter rattling in your ears as you turn up your iPod and pretend they’re not there. The character itself is brilliant but her presence all too brief before Scrooge is spirited away to the future and a scene with the Ghost of Christmas Future – three men with a black sheet draped over them.
Their unconvincing performance seemed to miraculously transform Scrooge’s cynicism into smiles in next to no time and before we knew it he was professing his love to all and sundry like a tipsy uncle at a wedding. It sort of fell apart a bit toward the end – as though the interval had interrupted the momentum. Maybe it was just a bit of a bum night. I’d still recommend it because overall, the acting was brilliant – Broadbent’s comic timing magnificent supported by an equally brilliant ensemble. Special props to Bob Cratchit who pops up in various guises throughout. A respectable three stars. For tickets and more information click here.
See you tomorrow,
P.S. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, have you never entered my giveaway yet? No worries. You can fix that here.