Tag Archives: James Murfitt

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


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Neck or Nothing

Pleasance Theatre

Neck or Nothing

Neck or Nothing

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 26th April 2019



“They balance sincerity and comedy throughout, allowing the audience a laugh even when the situation is heartbreakingly hopeless”


With a title like that and a poster of a lone bear standing tall and magnificent (in a space suit), it would be easy to assume the general plot outline – quirky man goes for gold, sacrifices everything, comes out victorious. The American dream is real, people! You just have to sacrifice everything! And apparently buy a space suit. And be a bear…

‘Neck or Nothing’ follows the story of Jens (James Murfitt), a man with a dream to make the ultimate contribution to humankind; to be the hero the world needs. And he plans on doing this whilst living in his brother Frank’s garage, being funded by his wife Martha (Katy Daghorn) who pulls double shifts at a failing bakery.

Co-writers and directors Christopher Neels and Callum Cameron have created a character with all the trappings of a victorious underdog: obsessive single-mindedness, a plan that seems completely ridiculous, a loving family whose faith begins to waver, and a small town that laughs at his brilliance. But rather than taking it to its Rocky Balboa conclusion, instead they highlight the sad reality of this trope, and of the inevitable damage caused by self-inflicted isolation, and toxic masculinity in general.

Murfitt, Daghorn and North all deliver enthusiastic and engaging performances. They balance sincerity and comedy throughout, allowing the audience a laugh even when the situation is heartbreakingly hopeless. Their characters are all surprisingly fleshed out – another twist on the classic underdog story, where all other characters beside the lead are usually kept in soft-focus.

Costume and set design (Sophia Pardon) are efficient but good fun – the star of the show is of course Jens’ ‘invention’- a home-made ‘ironman’ costume, cupcake tray serving well as a steel six-pack and cycling knee pads making excellent superhero-square shoulders. The video and lighting design (Rachel Sampley) does well to create various spaces on a small stage without overcomplicating and distracting from the main event.

In all, Neels and Cameron have succeeded in creating an off-beat comedy with just enough heart to get their message across, but not so much that you want to look away for sheer embarrassment. I look forward to seeing what Fledgling Theatre Co do next.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by  Veronika Casarova


Neck or Nothing

Pleasance Theatre until 4th May


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy | ★★★★ | April 2018
Dames | ★★★½ | April 2018
Spiked | ★★★★ | April 2018
A Gym Thing | ★★★★ | May 2018
Bingo | ★★★ | June 2018
Aid Memoir | ★★★ | October 2018
One Duck Down | ★★★★★ | October 2018
The Archive of Educated Hearts | ★★★★ | October 2018
Call Me Vicky | ★★★ | February 2019
Night Of The Living Dead Live | ★★★ | April 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com