GHOSTED – ANOTHER F**KING CHRISTMAS CAROL at The Other Palace
“It is a rib-tickling celebration of queer culture. The Play That Goes Wrong meets Queer Eye, with a sprinkling of Have I Got News For You”
‘Tis the season of way too many Dickens adaptations, but as you can most likely tell by the subtitle, “Another F***ing Christmas Carol,” this is very much not a standard version of the Christmas classic.
Written by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper and directed by Andrew Beckett, the team behind the celebrated adult pantomimes for Above The Stag Theatre, Ghosted may just be my favourite festive show of the year. Hilariously self-aware, it was set firmly in 2022, with pop culture references, political jokes and many, many references to queer culture.
It begins with three carol singers in period dress, holding traditional, Victorian style lanterns. They start singing a beautiful carol, until they are interrupted by Bobbi Cratchitt (played with incredible comic timing by Nikki Biddington), running in late, through the audience, wearing a bright Christmas jumper and reindeer antlers. This riotous beginning brings the story into the present and sets the tone for the whole piece. When the carol singers get chatting about their terrible boss stories (very relatable – we all have one!), Bobbi Cratchitt begins to tell us about Eloisa Scrooge (Natalie Boakye) and three queer ghosts (all hysterically camp, played by Christopher Lane) who give her a makeover on Christmas Eve. The rest of the story loosely follows the plot of A Christmas Carol, with a few surprise twists and turns.
The cast is made up of just four people, switching effortlessly between all the characters, and every member was as strong and hilarious as the rest. Although a standout moment for me was Liam McHugh, switching between playing a mother and son in the same scene. A fantastic ensemble with brilliant chemistry, who all had stunning singing voices. Their creative and sweary updates on classic Christmas carols were sung beautifully, with gorgeous harmonies, along with a hefty dose of F words, and even a few C bombs… it is certainly not a show to bring the children along!
The set (designer David Shields) is a purely white room, with very few props (Isla Rose) or set pieces, meaning a small amount of imagination was required. The costume design was very much the same, a couple of key items for the quick changes between the characters. But there were many jokes made of this, and it became a running gag throughout the piece. Paper chain decorations became the chains around “Jacob Rees-Marley”, and with a few subtle lighting (Oli Matthews) and sound effects (Joel Mulley), the stage became an office, a flat, a dining room, a beach, and even a nightclub smoking area.
It is a rib-tickling celebration of queer culture. The Play That Goes Wrong meets Queer Eye, with a sprinkling of Have I Got News For You – heart-warming, without being sickly sweet – it is exactly what is needed in the current climate, and I didn’t stop laughing throughout.
Reviewed on 2nd December 2022
by Suzanne Curley
Photography by Mark Senior
Previously reviewed at this venue: