The Christmas season is now well and fully upon us, with most pantos open and about four hundred different versions of Messiah on offer. In the spirit of December theater going, I decided to scratch my Christmas Carol itch with a performance at the Baron’s Court Pub, which publicity materials had touted as “funny” and “interactive.” My hopes were high, especially given the promised 80 minute running time – hey, if push came to shove, we were already in a pub, so it would just be like a break in a night of holiday drinking.
I think, though, I was not expecting this to be done with in a sketch comedy style. Scenes were constantly interrupted by actors talking off book, we (the audience) were asked to provide background noises (bells, clanking chains), perform (as the guests at Fezziwig’s party, for example), and were being interacted with quite directly by the performers from the moment we walked in the door. I wasn’t really up for this: I didn’t want to hold sausages or play games or otherwise engage in forced jollility. I wasn’t convinced that what was happening was particularly funny and I just wanted to be left alone.
Unfortunately in such a small space this was almost impossible, and with no place to escape it all became rather oppressive. (Have I mentioned I don’t like sketch comedy?) There were some highlights – I did love the special effect they used to create Scrooge’s door knocker (two sheets of paper) and (spoiler alert!) having Bob Marley instead of Jacob Marley was just genius. But so many of the distractions and horsing around just didn’t tickle my funny bone at all, and it made me grumpy. This was my idea of hell: being trapped in a room with five comedians, twenty audience members, and no place to go.
For raw comedy, this didn’t touch the infamous Black Light Christmas Carol I saw in 2004 (child actors drinking and being hostile, I loved it), and it just didn’t really move me the way this story can. So, in summary: bah humbug. Wish me better luck at the Tabard this Sunday.
(This review is for a performance that took place December 5th, 2013. Tonight is the last night.)