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GHOSTED – Another F***ing Christmas Carol – The Other Palace Studio, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writers: Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper

Director: Andrew Beckett

As its sweary subtitle suggests, GHOSTED is another Christmas Carol, but this might be the funniest one out there and this year there are plenty of Christmas Carols out there. However, this, from the team behind the popular Above the Stag pantomimes, feels different and quite fittingly GHOSTED is as camp as Christmas.

A very talented cast of four bring Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper’s update of Dickens’s tale to life and although the new story remains pretty faithful to the original the puns and the innuendos ensure that this is a night for adults rather than Tiny Tims. The filthiest of the performers is Christopher Lane who plays all the ghosts of Christmas, only differentiated by the colour of the tiny puffer jacket he wears. With quartz watch precision, his comic timing is marvellous and not a single second of this 90-minute show is wasted.

It’s the ghosts’ job to make sure that Scrooge sees the errors of his ways, but in this version Ebenezer has become Eloisa, and Natalie Boakye plays her, reimagined as a letting agent, with a cold-blooded chill. Boakye and Lane make a very comical double-act, and her reaction to his potty-mouthed comments is wonderfully scathing.

Bob Cratchitt is now Bobbi, a queer woman who works for Scrooge every hour of the day. She’s allowed not to come in to the office on Christmas Day, as long as she works from home. She should resign but she’s as honest and sweet as the day is long, her quirkiness symbolized by her odd socks. Nikki Biddington imbues Bobbi with just enough sass to counter the sugar. All the cast play other roles, but Liam McHugh is very busy in multiple roles; Scrooge’s nephew Freddie, Bobbi’s wife, Bobbi’s son, Scrooge’s tenant. That he remembers who he is at every juncture is a Christmas miracle, and he throws himself into every part.

David Shields’s handsomely clean set looks right at home in the Other Palace’s stylish studio space. The stage is small, but the cast make the most of it, never missing a beat. Alongside the action, Christmas carols are sung with new lyrics by Bradfield that are often very dirty or surprisingly topical in the case that trickle-down economics has failed. Their voices blend so beautifully that you almost wish the show were rounded off by a few unironic carols.

If the thought of schmaltzy Christmas shows fills you with dread then GHOSTED may the perfect seasonal treat. With more sauce than Sainsbury’s, this adult pantomime is just the ticket.

Runs until 24 December 2022

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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