Returning to a production first presented two years ago, Giant Olive proves there will always be a keen audience for a winning formula.
This time Ebenezer is played by West End regular Peter Gerald, who portrays his Scrooge as more of a reasonable Coalition government member protecting his interests than the outright pantomime villain. His references to self-preservation and providing for the poor merely by paying his taxes are particularly resonant for today’s audience, and the messages spelled out to Scrooge about the importance of humanity and compassion couldn’t be more appropriate.
As Bob Cratchit, Ross Ericson’s imposing stature isn’t what you may expect from the malnourished, frost-bitten clerk, but he displays the character’s qualities of optimism and warmth with ease.
The internationally represented supporting cast are all very strong, particularly James Scott as the idealistic young Scrooge and Maud Arrault as his exotic fiancee Belle. Whether it is intentional or not, Arrault’s similarity of dress and appearance to Kate Middleton during her recent engagement announcement is uncanny, but instead of revealing her happy news, in this instance, dressed in a flowing blue dress - and with equally flowing hair - she breaks the engagement off.
The ghosts are evoked in an innovative style - with Becky Pennick’s Ghost of Christmas Present a highlight - a bawdy party girl dressed in a Santa outfit, complete with a black basque. It may not be quite how Dickens intended but it’s highly entertaining all the same.