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Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves review at Theatre503, London – ‘infectiously bonkers’

Ben Hales, Joshua George Smith, John Woodburn and James-Dunnell-Smith in Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
Ben Hales, Joshua George Smith, John Woodburn and James-Dunnell-Smith in Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
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Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves won’t win awards for its slickness. But its festive mash-up of Father Christmas, Dickens, Snow White and the Wizard of Oz – with a cameo by Mary Poppins – is done with such a twinkle, it’s impossible to be miserly about it.

Comedy trio the Sleeping Trees return to Theatre503 for their third panto. When the Wicked Witch steals the world’s festive cheer, the remaining spark buried deep inside Ebenezer Scrooge is Christmas’ last hope. But will he save the day?

The added layer of a The Play That Goes Wrong-style meta-narrative – the trio have failed to book the rest of the 30-strong cast and must play all the roles themselves – isn’t new. But the script takes this in its stride by acknowledging it. And while it’s an easy gag, the ‘seven’ dwarves are a treat.

Joshua George Smith, John Woodburn and James Dunnell-Smith get huge mileage out of their colourful assortment of characters, hamming it up until the stage is oinking. Their comic timing, ad-libbing and gleeful revelry in all the ridiculousness powers big laughs.

Director Simon Evans shows the same skill at generating chemistry between stage and audience as he did in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Southwark this year. He plays well to the small theatre space. Everything is fast and punchy – including a gloriously crazy dinosaur sequence.

The songs are fun, the low-fi set fits the tone – and even the show’s composer, Ben Hales, gets in on the action. There’s no room for "bah, humbug" here.

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Verdict
Infectiously bonkers, festive chaos from a talented troupe of comic actors
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