Tag Archives: Andrew Beckett


Ghosted – Another F**king Christmas Carol


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:

Millennials | ★★★ | July 2022
Glory Ride | ★★★ | November 2022


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The Morning After

The Morning After

Above the Stag

The Morning After

The Morning After

Above the Stag

Reviewed – 24th January 2020


“a play that sets comedy back 40 years and sends meaningful gay drama back to the Stone Age”


In the 1970s many television sitcoms attracted thousands of viewers, but today would probably be avoided and largely filed away under “embarrassing nostalgia.”

Unless they happen to be a devotee of Reg Varney or Jack Smethurst discerning audiences of today are likely to seek their laughs elsewhere, regarding those shows of yesteryear offensive and of their time.

Proving that this is not always the case is a play at Above the Stag billed as a “modern sex comedy.” The big problem with The Morning After is that it is none of those things.

There is every reason to hope Peter Quilter’s 2012 play would raise a titter, not least because of the writer’s pedigree (his Judy Garland musical-drama End of the Rainbow was an enormous stage hit and indeed was adapted for the recent award-winning film Judy) and the theatre’s record of edgy and often subversive fare.

Originally written with a gay couple at its core it was difficult to sell, so rewritten with a straight couple and became popular internationally. Frankly, it is hard to understand how it could be celebrated in either form, but here it receives the premiere of its first intention.

Its admittedly awkward story about love, sex and relationships is somehow unconventional yet predictable, with two-dimensional characters struggling to be believable and falling at the first hurdle.

Played out on yet another excellent set at the theatre designed by David Shields, a bedroom in which we see people waking up in each scene on mornings over a period of time, what little humour is present (there’s maybe four or five laugh out loud funny lines) evaporates rapidly. The repeated theme of mum and uncle walking into the intimate goings-on of the young lovebirds becomes tiresome remarkably quickly and even sauciness with doughnuts and underwear can’t make a silk purse.

Three of the four-strong cast are from an offbeat family with no inhibitions, while the fourth is the nervous new boyfriend of the son. While the quartet do their best to be larger than life the play breaks all the rules of good situation comedy, in which the audience virtually feels they are part of the family as each sharp witticism is bounced into the story.

Chris Cahill (Adam), Colleen Daley (Barbara) and Matthew Lloyd Davies (Martin) go big and bold to find some level of melodrama, but it is impossible to believe that poor David Fenne’s Thomas would ever dream of staying around such an infuriating bunch of people rather than making a hasty dash for the exit, as we learn several previous boyfriends have done before.

Fine director Andrew Beckett tries his best to inject a frenzied energy but even his artistic skill is to no avail. Strong lighting (Jamie Platt) and sound (Andy Hill) cues can add nothing to the lacklustre script.

As you shift uncomfortably and look longingly at your watch there is then a shameful scene which essentially mocks someone’s deafness. This is not an oversensitive reaction, it is shock that any contemporary play or production should seek to find any humour in something so abhorrent and fail to recognise it. “It’s only a joke,” is ignorant evasion of an affront that needs to be called out.

If you want comedic satisfaction from eccentric families stick with The Simpsons or flirt with Outnumbered.

We have come to expect something far more challenging from this leading LGBTQIA+ venue. Far better to catch the engaging Four Play in its studio theatre than bother with a play that sets comedy back 40 years and sends meaningful gay drama back to the Stone Age.


Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by PBG Studios


The Morning After

Above the Stag until 1st March


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Title Of Show | ★★★★ | February 2019
Goodbye Norma Jeane | ★★ | March 2019
Romance Romance | ★★★★ | March 2019
Queereteria TV | ★★ | April 2019
Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story  | ★★★★ | May 2019
Happily Ever Poofter | ★★★★ | July 2019
Velvet | ★★★ | October 2019
Pinocchio: No Strings Attached! | ★★★★ | November 2019
Four Play | ★★★ | January 2020


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