Skip to main content

Scrooge! The Musical

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

Ebenezer Scrooge is the quintessential Charles Dickens character, wheeled out once a year like fairy lights to brighten up the neighbourhood. Watching Philip Rham's vivid and well-rounded interpretation of the mealy-mouthed old skinflint in Richard Baron's seasonal revival of Leslie Bricusse's rollicking feel-good musical, it is clear he is also a man of our times, and a perfect representation of the state we're in now. Scrooge, after all, is an emotionally damaged loan shark who has made his fortune on the backs of the poor, and who exploits austerity as an excuse to pay his staff below minimum wage while hiking up interest on his pay-day loans.

The bustling street scene that opens the show having been ushered in by projections of falling snowflakes, however, is as inclusively cosy as the Christmas card brought to life that Adrian Rees' set so resembles. Even Scrooge's creepy presence can't dim such an image as he slopes into view, only to be forced to face up to his demons who left him broken-hearted and loveless. These are ushered in by Dougal Lee's Sideshow Bob haired Jacob Marley, with Tabitha Tingey making a tender Ghost of Christmas Past before Christopher Price's bluff Ghost of Christmas Present barges in.

Alongside Graham Mackay-Bruce's terminally chipper Bob Cratchit, these are the best drawn of Bricusse's characterisations. Not that the remainder of Baron's sixteen-strong ensemble augmented by a revolving children's cast and a ten-piece band led by Dougie Flowers are left idle in any way. Rather, they burl and whirl their way through every one of Bricusse's rabble-rousing confections with a muscular vim that captures the richness of Dickens' inner-city fable with life-affirming aplomb.

The Herald, December 9th 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…

This House

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Five years is a long time in politics just as it is in the theatre. When James Graham’s epic reimagining of one of the most pivotal eras in late twentieth century British democracy first appeared in 2012, its depiction of the aftermath of the 1974 hung parliament in Westminster chimed with a then current coalition. Half a decade and a couple of referendums on, Graham’s dramatic whizz through to 1979’s successful vote of no confidence in the Labour government now looks like a warning.
Jeremy Herrin and Jonathan O’Boyle’s touring revival of a production first seen at the National Theatre begins with both sides of the House marching en masse in their grey suits and twin-sets down the aisles of the auditorium before cutting a well-choreographed rug in formation. As the Labour and Tory whips mark out their territory away from the chamber, this proves to be one of the few moments of unity in a breathless yarn that picks at the old-school gentleman’s agree…