The wonderful folk at Magnificent Bastard productions, who have brought us many seasons of joy through Shit-faced Shakespeare, charge their glasses and present Shit-faced Showtime: A Pissedmas Carol for their tipsy take on the seasonal Dickens classic, writes Christopher Peacock.
For those that don’t know, a Shit-faced show is unlike any other. Before each performance a different member of the cast is plied with booze and then sent on stage. Like a toy car with a loose wheel, they struggle to stay on track as audience members serve as the moderators of inebriation. If the allocated audience members feel sobriety is on the horizon for the performer, they indicate so and the narrator stops the show to supply the cast member with another beverage. Hence the ensemble need to be quick to move the show on and roll with the punches and whatever else could get thrown their way.
No two shows are ever the same and this well drilled framework suits this Dickens classic to a tee. The narrator, in this case Dickens himself, helps nurse the drunk performer through and keep the show on time. The adaptation needs to be brisk to fit the hour time slot and this is very well crafted, with modern musical numbers thrown in for another good measure. It’s not only the ghosts of Christmas past present and future in high spirits, the laughs keep rolling on even when the show seems to get a bit chaotic. The cast improvise well and handle everything with good humour, turning in some great comedy performances whilst keeping the show on the road.
This time of year pantomimes dominate stages across the UK and Shit-faced’s brand of show may be seen as a modern take on the genre that has been a mainstay of theatres for over 100 years. With a raised glass to the cast and crew it was a joyous night. A seasonal laugh, but maybe not for all the family.
Cast: Katy Baker, James Murfitt, John Mitton, Issy Wroe Wright, Hal Hillman, Will Seaward, Daniel Quirke, Christian Andrews.
Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX until January 5th 2020. Times: Wed – Sat 7.30pm. Admission: £17.50 – £26. Phone: 0207 734 2222