A Christmas Carol review at Liverpool Playhouse – ‘inventive, sharp silliness’
Say Spymonkey and all thoughts of a traditional telling of A Christmas Carol can be forgotten. Their retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic is steeped in the company’s trademark silliness and is quite possibly one of the funniest things on a Liverpool stage this Christmas.
Toby Park is Ebeneezer Scrooge and the three remaining cast members play everyone else. The story may have been deconstructed and reassembled but still retains both its shape and its message of hope.
Alice Power’s cartoonish split-level set resembles a child’s toy theatre, with various elements wheeled or winched on and off with artful clunkiness. The frequent costume changes give the cast opportunities to inject additional random comedy as they mix and match elements, culminating in a crazy, if slightly over-milked, Cratchit family scene.
The Ghost of Christmas Past comes straight from a horror movie, Christmas Present floats about the stage on a hover-board and Christmas Yet to Come is a hooded harbinger of death with extraordinarily long arms.
Ross Hughes leads an exceptional onstage band in a score that blends seamlessly into the action under Ed Gaughan’s detailed stage direction.
Although pace needs tightening occasionally, the production is filled with inventiveness and sharp physical comedy.