Tag Archives: Daniel Quirke

A Pissemas Carol

A Pissedmas Carol

★★★★★

Leicester Square Theatre

A Pissemas Carol

A Pissedmas Carol

Leicester Square Theatre

Reviewed – 10th December 2021

★★★★★

 

“one of the funniest experiences you can have a theatre”

 

It’s written into law that, like Hamlet or The Importance of Being Earnest throughout the year, there must be at least 12 productions of A Christmas Carol running when the festive seasons rolls around. Without a doubt, A Pissedmas Carol tops the list.

Produced by Sh!tfaced Showtime (who also do Sh!tfaced Shakespeare), the show is a perfectly ordinary telling of the Charles Dickens classic save for one simple-but-genius twist: one of the cast of five gets stupendously drunk before the show and continues drinking throughout. It’s something that could easily go horribly wrong, but this team pulls it off with total brilliance.

In this performance, James Murfitt was the unfortunate actor who had to knock back some beers and most of a bottle of Tanqueray gin before the show even began, which was followed by more beers and even some Gaviscon during the play. In many ways, Murfitt seemed like the best choice from the audience’s perspective since they were playing Scrooge.

It’s only natural that the inebriated actor will want to go off-script, and the rest of the cast (Katy Baker, John Mitton, Issy Wroe Wright, Hal Hillman, Will Seaward, Daniel Quirke, Charlotte Brooke and Nick House in rotation across performances) do a stellar job of going along with it without derailing the plot too much. However, when that actor is playing the lead character who has a lot of control over the plot, it leads to a lot of derailing that ends up being exceptionally hilarious. In this version, Scrooge becomes a queer icon, drops the c-word like it’s going out of style, and completely rewrites the ending by murdering Bob Cratchitt. Seeing the gleam in the actors’ eyes as they magnificently mutilate the source material is superb, and they keep the audience in the palm of their hands throughout, in the most sidesplitting ways.

The audience get to be involved in the action too, with members bestowed with horns and crackers by the bellowing narrator that can keep the drinks flowing when used, and charades suggestions being played out on stage.

Thanks to Katy Baker’s slick direction and actors’ exquisite interplay and improv skills, A Pissedmas Carol is one of the funniest experiences you can have a theatre, and one of the best presents you can give yourself this Christmas.

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Rah Petherbridge

 


A Pissedmas Carol

Leicester Square Theatre until 15th January

 

Previously reviewed at this venue this year:
Sh!t-Faced Macbeth | ★★★★★ | July 2021

 

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Sh!t-Faced Showtime: A Pissedmas Carol

★★★★★

Leicester Square Theatre

A Pissedmas Carol

Sh!t-Faced Showtime: A Pissedmas Carol

Leicester Square Theatre

Reviewed – 28th November 2019

★★★★★

 

“bountiful instances of quick-witted, gleeful silliness”

 

Audiences are a voyeuristic bunch – from found-footage horror films to The Play That Goes Wrong, there is a proven appetite for watching things where what’s being shown feels like it shouldn’t be seen. So it’s no surprise that Magnificent Bastard Productions have struck gold with their format in which they get one of their actors drunk and have to roll with whatever punches they throw during the show. They’ve found success with both Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare and Sh*t-Faced Showtime previously, and that can now be counted as a triumvirate of triumphs with their new festive show, A Pissedmas Carol.

A Pissedmas Carol follows the plot of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol with a cast of five and a script by Lewis Ironside. Or it intends to follow the plot, anyway, although the actor who’d got through two beers, a shot of vegan Baileys, and two thirds of a bottle of Captain Morgans over the course of four hours preceding the show lobbed most of the script out the window. The rules set out by the show’s MC (who incidentally, was Charles Dickens – played with adorable joviality by Will Seaward) dictate that whatever that actor chooses to do, the others must improvise around it. With a group of exceptional improvisers such as this, such a format leads to boundless hilarity. Once this performance’s drunk actor Daniel Quirke chooses to lick a castmate’s nose as a greeting, it becomes a running gag throughout the show, and when Quirke changes the ending of the story on the fly by putting Scrooge in a coma for forty years, the change is embraced fully by the other actors. The fundamental rule of improv – always say yes – is taken very seriously, which results in bountiful instances of quick-witted, gleeful silliness.

The improv and alcohol-heavy nature of the show could very easily lead to wearisome indulgence in the performances, but thankfully there is a keen awareness from the cast, as well as clear measures to ensure the experience is always firmly centred around audience enjoyment – the MC will sometimes usher things along, or Charlotte Brooke’s piano accompaniment will lead the scenes forward. The audience are also invited to deepen the chaos, as select members are able to put another drink in the inebriated actor’s hand when they so wish. By the end of the show, Quirke had got through a further three beers, which kept the voyeuristic excitement ramping up.

As mentioned, the performances are roundly excellent, and the fun that these actors are clearly having on stage with each other permeates through to the audience. They capitalise on every unexpected comic opportunity, with James Murfitt as Scrooge and Katy Baker (who also directed) as the Ghost of Christmas Past standing out in a scene where – thanks to Quirke’s machinations – their rendition of ‘Walking in the Air’ as they flew to the past brought on reams of laughter. That’s not the only song either – A Pissedmas Carol features a host of Christmas classics, all fantastically sung, from Issy Wroe-Wright’s scene-stealing ‘Last Christmas’ to the gorgeous harmonies in ‘Fairytale of New York’.

A Pissedmas Carol has carved out a format that sets it apart from any other Christmas show, yet also puts it head and shoulders above them. Forget panto – this is the most fun you’re going to have in a theatre this festive season.

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Rah Petherbridge

 


Sh!t-Faced Showtime: A Pissedmas Carol

Leicester Square Theatre until 5th January

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Murder, She Didn’t Write | ★★★ | February 2018
Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice | ★★★★ | April 2018
Sh!t-faced Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet | ★★★★ | June 2018
Murder She Didn’t Write | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sh!t-faced Showtime: Oliver With a Twist! | ★★★ | September 2018
Stick Man | ★★★½ | October 2018
Sh!t-Faced Showtime: Oliver With A Twist | ★★ | March 2019
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet | ★★★ | June 2019

 

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