A Christmas Carol
The Paradiso Spiegeltent – Christmas at Leicester Sq
Reviewed – 10th December 2017
“this is one show to warm your heart and also leave you in absolute stitches
Whether you are among the excited crowds at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland or enjoying a glass of mulled wine whist appreciating Covent Garden’s impressive Christmas Tree, the festive season in London promises a never ending supply of fun activities leading up to the big day – and this is no exception when it comes to the theatre.
In the heart of Leicester Square, The Fitzrovia Radio Hour entertained us with a classic Dickens tale. Self acclaimed enjoyers of ‘wearing pencil moustaches and dinner jackets’ the group specialise in writing and performing material in a rather twee 1940s way.
On one hand, being tucked away in a cosy, dimly lit tent was quite appropriate given the somewhat spookiness of the narrative, but when you can faintly (or not in the case of the busker singing Britpop classics not far away) hear the hustle and bustle of city life outside, it can be a tad distracting. Hats off to the cast though who, despite the background noise, put on a fabulous performance.
The show is acted out as a live broadcast radio show in the style of days gone by. This is juxtaposed with the relationship between the characters when they are ‘off air’. Hellbent on playing the character of Scrooge, Ernest Andrews (played by Samuel Collings) may or may not have had something to do with an injury that took out the previous leading man (Michael Lumsden). Vanity Fair (Alix Dunmore) and Beau Belles (William Findley) get a little too cosy when acting out their roles – if only the radio audience could see what they were up to!
Poor Gretchen Haggard (Dorothea Myer-Bennett) is easily distracted, pining for her original Scrooge. In order to make their story more realistic to the listeners, the sound effects are of huge importance and visually it is so entertaining watching them juggle reading their lines into the microphone with clambering around trying to find the correct prop. We’re talking everything from balloons to a skull and lets not forget the signboards signalling that the audience should a) applaud and b) make seagull noises.
Distractions aside, this is one show to warm your heart and also leave you in absolute stitches.
Reviewed by Stephanie Legg
Photography Geraint Lewis
A Christmas Carol
is at The Paradiso Spiegeltent, Christmas at Leicester Square until 30th December 2017