Theatre: Review: Living Spit’s A Christmas Carol

Natalie Burns, December 13, 2015


We all know the tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge and his wicked ways as well as we know there will be a family fallout over Christmas dinner. We’ve heard it a hundred times, from actors ranging from Alastair Sim to Michael Caine and Gonzo from The Muppets. However, Stu McLoughlin and Howard Coggins add a whole new twist to the festive tale in Living Spit’s version.

Director Craig Edwards brings a very deliberate air of ‘embarrassing but loveable Dad doing am-dram’ to the production. As the play opens, we are warned by narrator Stu McLoughlin (who, by the way, plays every other character, with assistance from some splendidly low-tech props and puppets) that the usually kind and friendly actor Howard Coggins will be transformed before our eyes into the miserly Master Scrooge.

Pics: Paul Blakemore

Coggins’ Scrooge is a Tory-leaning, chugger-bashing, homeless-hating, Daily Mail-reading modern misery. During the course of the play, he is haunted by the ghost of Christmas Past – a burly broad in a tutu called Sharon (McLoughlin, of course), who takes Scrooge back to reminisce about the time he pulled the fit girl from HR at the office Christmas do, before ditching her the following year to pursue riches, in Dickens’ words, ”secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster”.

The jokes are brilliantly bad, and the songs (including an interlude song explaining that the Tobacco Factory wouldn’t allow an interval, but if they had, this is the point in the play where it would have been) are wonderful. Warning: you’ll witness a room full of over-50s holding hands and singing Satan’s Bum Boy. If you are ready for that, you’re ready for anything.

The acting is deliberately hammy and way over the top, the language is that level of offensive that amuses your retired middle-class aunt after a large glass of red, and all in all the whole performance is hilarious. It’s proper fun for all the family, which is exactly what you want at Christmas.

Get yourself down to the next performance, grab a Baileys before you go in and get your festive hat on.

Living Spit’s A Christmas Carol continues at the Brewery Theatre until Sunday, January 3. For more info and to book tickets, visit www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com/shows/living-spits-a-christmas-carol

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