Scrooge – Jim Broadbent
Show Date: Wednesday 16th December 2015 (2pm)
The thing with A Christmas Carol is that we all know the story and have probably seen it a few times in different format and versions which each bring something a little bit different to it all. The story of Scrooge a greedy man who hates Christmas, people and pretty much life. It is timeless because it has fit in every single time period since Charles Dickens wrote the story, it has been adapted for stage and screen many times. Sometimes keeping the serious edge, making it more of a comedy, even a musical or with songs, animated and even the Muppet’s have been involved as well. Yes the Muppet’s version is my favourite version.
Before making the trip down to London to see the play, something that I had planned and booked since the end of September, I was eagerly awaiting people’s reactions from it since the previews opened a few weeks ago. The reviews seemed to be very mixed and not consistent, I was reading tweets from actual people as well who had been to see it. Some even leaving at the interval?!?! Yet others totally loving it. That is certainly something I love about the theatre, people see things differently. I guess I had all of that in mind when I went into the play and in all honesty I was still hoping I would love it. Unfortunately I did not love it and that was something that was set in place within the first five to ten minutes. Maybe seems a little bit soon to make that decision but let’s face it initial reactions are usually spot on. I was excited to see Jim Broadbent on stage he is a fantastic actor and certainly did show what he could do throughout his turn as Scrooge but that wasn’t enough to save the play.
It felt as though some of the material was used over and over again, the way they flew to the different places in his life and in the future with the fake legs, yes might have been funny the first time but it got old very fast. So by the third and fourth time of doing it, I didn’t think it was funny anymore. However someone next to me with a horrendous laugh seemed to think it was the greatest thing ever created ever. Honestly I am not even lying, at least she was enjoying it I guess. I don’t know but maybe I was just expecting it to be a little bit more straight and serious to really focus on the story and how the character changes instead of playing for laughs with rubbish gags?
Although had to laugh when something actually did go wrong with the door and it got stuck, was hard to tell whether it was part of the production or not, until some of the actors could not compose themselves with laughter, only a tiny break from Broadbent who just as quickly switched back on to his character. That certainly did show his level of professionalism in my opinion. It did not have a very big cast and the actors doubled as many different characters, as well as some work from puppets, yes really puppets to play the children.
I was handling it all though and taking it in my stride trying to pick out the good things and that the Christmas message was still hidden somewhere in this strange production. That is how I am viewing it as very strange and disappointing. I mean I know they would want to make it different and their own but surely a more traditional take would have been a winner, especially for how much they were charging for the tickets. I don’t think it was worth the money at all, and probably not the best show to finish off 2015 for me.
The different actors were changing characters and this lead to some interesting performances I will admit but I found Keir Charles to be extremely over the top with every character he was, which was something else that annoyed me very quickly. I just really didn’t see any need at all for that, surely he could have toned it down just a little bit and maybe it would have made the thing more enjoyable? Ok that is not fair to say really as it wasn’t all his fault. I felt that it just lost that edge of how Scrooge was nasty and greedy and even the scenes showing why he like that were seriously lacking something special. Oh and did I mention that they spoilt it even more by going for the “in a play” approach and taking parts of the set away to then go back to the story?!?! Honestly just when I was thinking it couldn’t get any worse it sure did with that move.
I feel like I have been very harsh in this review but in all honesty this is the first thing I have seen in the West End that I haven’t enjoyed and been impressed with, so felt like I had to give an honest account of how I found it all. Probably better off watching your favourite film/tv version ahead of the Christmas period instead of spending a lot to catch this messed up version on stage.
If you have seen this I am very curious to know how you found it?