Review: Ted Lasso Star Is Scrooge As You've Never Seen Him Before
The London stage is more crowded with bah-humbugging Ebenezers this time of year than Oxford Street is with weary shoppers. So how the Dickens do you make your haunted pennypincher stand out from the others?
One way to do it is to turn Scrooge into Santa — not just any old Santa either — one as played by the tirelessly lazy, squeaky-voiced Nick Mohammed creation, Mr Swallow.
A generous glug of panto, a dash of cruise ship chintz, and a garnish of abracadabra are swirled into this potent festive punch, as the hapless Swallow-Santa struggles to redeem himself on stage ("I can't do that, there might be kids watching!"). Mohammed has that rare quality of making you giggle just by rattling out a line like "Oh my god!" or even an Alastair Sim-esque "Spirit!". He's abetted by trusty sidekicks Kieran Hodgson (who almost steals the show with a rendition of 'Stille Nacht') and David Elms, stoically playing all four spirits, eye-rolling their way in turn towards the daredevil finale we've come to expect from a Swallow production.
Sarah Hadland (who you'll recognise from Miranda or otherwise Horrible Histories) sprinkles the place with corny glitz in the guise of Rochelle — understudy to the understudy to the understudy for every Lloyd Webber musical going — and lays on the night's barmiest moment, belting out a Bernard Matthews-flavoured power ballad, a la Bonnie Tyler. The best cameo of all, though, is the Voice of God; let's just say Mohammed — who reached starry acclaim in footie sitcom Ted Lasso — has been flicking through his Hollywood Rolodex.
It all boils up into a riotous, at times utterly bewildering, riff on A Christmas Carol — one that'll have the classicists spitting out their Smoking Bishop across the room. And why not. After all, as Mr Swallow reminds us, "They let Michael Caine do it with a frog and a pig."
A Christmas Carol-ish, Soho Theatre, until 23 December
Last Updated 12 December 2022