Bah! Humbug! Yet another version of Christmas Carol, you say? 'Fraid so. Ah, but this version is at Theatre Delicatessen's temporary stomping ground at Picton Place so we can expect something a little bit different.
This adaption of Dickens' seasonal classic is the penultimate production before the building, the ex-HQ of Uzbekistan Airways, is turned into an apartment block. With that in mind, it's entirely appropriate that our thoughts turn to productions past, namely the excellent Theatre Souk and Contractions, and future (the all-female version of A Doll's House) before the building is turned into an apartment block.
Brought to us by .dash and tacit theatre groups, the concept here seems to be seasonal steampunk. The stage design is almost entirely modernised: Scrooge shares his office with a bank of televisions, a pull-out bed and a radio while his assistant Bob takes calls pedalling on an exercise bike as he generates electricity. In contrast, much of the original Victorian language remains albeit with occasional references to the DWP, deficit reductions and "Scrooge and Marley Financial Solutions".
Tom Daplyn plays Scrooge quite superbly as a bald, bearded bastard who holds our attention every time he speaks. His "Good afternoon!" comes out like a four-letter-based farewell and he convincingly portrays the miser's misery and joy. The script and set design sell him short, though. Scrooge's leap from evil employer to broken man is too short to be convincing and Daply spends some crucial scenes with his back to the audience talking to a televised face or images which are only really clear from the front half of the seating. The costume design is haphazard too: the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is an impressive 9ft Death in a black cloak while the ghost of Christmas Present appears as Santa albeit one with a fake beard that kept slipping.
Despite the experimental retuning, this production is less impressive than its predecessors at Picton Place and, its own right, a flawed work both in concept and delivery. Oh, and we're still wondering what a bank of televisions was doing in Scrooge's office.
A Christmas Carol runs (appropriately enough) until Christmas Eve. More and information and tickets available via the official website.