Open Bar Theatre: A ChristMESS Carol Online
Christmas without a panto is like Christmas pudding without brandy: you probably wouldn’t die without it, but it leaves a gaping hole if you don’t bother. As such, it’s a blessing that Open Bar Theatre are presenting a brilliantly humorous online take on Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to bring the Christmas spirit to everyone’s home, no matter which tier of restrictions you find yourself in. The result is a spectacularly upbeat take on the classic that’s guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Of course the restrictions of Zoom performances are well known by now, but director Nicky Diss does a terrific job in making it work as elegantly as possible. Mixing audience interaction – but not too much – with a beautifully abridged version of the story, Christmas carols with humour, and familiar old Scrooge with quirky Zoom background effects, everything works smoothly together and is perfectly reminiscent of a traditional panto in a theatre.
But it is especially the cast who manage to charm from the first minute. Vicky Gaskin plays a delightful Charles Dickens – a wonderfully meta and self-deprecating narrator who frequently breaks the fourth wall and engages delightfully with both audience and fellow actors. Ben Galpin is an unusually young, but nevertheless thoroughly believable and entertaining Scrooge, who even manages to deliver the more tender moments delicately – no easy feat on a live stream from his own home.
The rest of the cast are equally charming, everyone convincing, amusing, and occasionally – when the plot demands – moving. Show operator and composer David Knight successfully manages the show from behind the scenes and creates a wondrous whole that simply works.
Open Bar Theatre’s online A ChristMESS Carol won’t make you forget that you are watching a panto via Zoom rather than live in a theatre, but it hardly matters. The company manages to bring the best possible result out of the medium, creating a beautifully engaging and entertaining panto that can be enjoyed by everyone. A must-see for a socially-distanced Christmas 2020.
Open Bar Theatre: A ChristMESS Carol Online is at from 10th December until 22nd December 2020. For further information or to book visit here.