There’s more gravy than grave in this version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – though one of the dining tables does conceal a ghoulish surprise. Scrooge’s leather wingback chair and temperamental clock are transposed to a Brighton pub, where the kitchen is busy preparing a festive feast. And he is visited not by three, but by some 20-plus ghosts: Marley recruits the audience as a jolly throng of spirits, our task being to warm the heart of the famous miser. “We’ve ordered food!” Marley cries, as Scrooge scowls the scowl of a decidedly sober misanthrope sprung into hosting a late-night house party.
This Dickens classic has been done to death. By adapting it as a two-hander with an interactive frame, Alexander Wright gives it some of the spontaneous energy of a Christmas Eve lock-in. The familiar tale and text are interwoven with sing-alongs and parlour games. Scrooge’s first grudging concession to our presence is to conduct a fiendish maths quiz in shillings and guineas.
Originally created by Yorkshire’s Flanagan Collective, and now presented by the producers of Amelie the Musical, A Christmas Carol: The Immersive Dining Experience has the feel of a bespoke theatrical gift being rolled out for a broader market – able to accommodate office Christmas parties and up the number of cock jokes accordingly. As an ‘immersive’ show with a hefty ticket price, it could also do more to inhabit the space.
But Lucy Farrett’s impish Marley and Dominic Allen’s loveably cantankerous Scrooge have secured our good will long before the posh roasts appear.