Review by Daz Gale
London is spoiled for choice when it comes to festive theatre this year. You can choose between productions of A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol. Determined to do something different, Ghosted at The Other Palace brings to life the Charles Dickens classic… but with the subtitle of Another F***ing Christmas Carol could this be the show to make us change our ways and see a very different story?
Ghosted takes Dickens’ story and turns it on its head. Scrooge is gender switched to become Eloisa Scrooge, the worlds worst boss who is content with throwing tenants out on Christmas Day and making her assistant Bobbi Cratchitt work through the festive period. A visit from her deceased partner Jacob Rees Marley warns her she will be visited by three ghosts and what follows is a speedy and defiantly Queer whizz through Christmases past, present and yet to come.
The title of this show should give it away – this is a show for adults and for adults only. With sackloads of innuendo, filthy humour and every swearword imaginable, the content is more like an average Christmas day after a few too many drinks and a particularly argumentative game rather than the family friendly nature you may be used to with this story.
Written by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hopper who co-write the series of queer adult pantomimes at Above The Stag, Ghosted follows in that vein. The content may be filthy but it is consistently hilarious. The gags come thick and fast here and, perhaps rarely for a show like this, they ALL land. References to Elon Musk, Artistic Directors and Matt Hancock kept the audience howling throughout with over the top and playful characters adding some fantastic visual gags to the affair. The action is interspersed with a smattering of Christmas carols, all rewritten in keeping with the show itself with new lyrics that would make Rudolph blush.
Directed by Andrew Beckett, the tiny Studio space of The Other Palace that nestles underneath Heathers is used to perfection with the cast of four making all the use of a small stage and a never-ending bag of props that gradually decorates the stage until it feels as festive as stuffing the turkey.
As Eloisa, Natalie Boakye remains on the stage throughout the whole show as she puts up with a revolving door of spirits and acquaintances. Giving a fantastic performance, she has no trouble embracing the madness of the whole affair and is an absolute joy to watch. It is down to her three castmates to make up the rest of the weird and wacky characters that fill her story.
Nikki Biddington elicits the first laugh of the evening with her entrance and keeps that level of humour throughout with her turn as Bobbi Cratchitt an undoubted highlight. Liam McHugh plays the most characters in a series of quick changes that would make anyone exhausted. His highlights include the Pikachu onesie stroppy teenager Will and his forgetful mother Emily, though whenever he is on stage is an absolute delight in a truly versatile performance.
The cast of four are completed by Christopher Lane in a performance that is consistently scene-stealing. Playing all three of the ghosts, he oozes hilarity as he dances around the stage with even the slightest change in a facial expression ensuring it is always best to pay attention to what he is doing. Conveying the sheer madness and stupidity of the story, he forms what becomes the centrepiece of the story in a true masterclass of comedic acting.
What is absolutely charming about Ghosted is how it refuses to take itself seriously. It is well and truly in on the joke of how ridiculous the whole thing is with cast members commenting about characters looking identical or the need to use their imagination for the lack of special effects (though there is a rather brilliant use of snow throughout) and the fourth wall being well and truly shattered. With their tongue firmly in its cheek, it makes it much easier to laugh knowing this is the intended spirit of the piece.
Ghosted – Another F***ing Christmas Carol is an absolute marvel. Full to the brim with humour and starring a highly talented cast, this is potentially the funniest thing you’ve seen all Christmas (Mrs Browns Boys wishes it could be this funny). Fun, filthy and fabulous. it really is f***ing hilarious - This is one show you will be in no danger of ghosting as believe me, you will want to plan a return visit in Christmases yet to come.
Ghosted – Another F***ing Christmas Carol plays at The Other Palace until December 24th. Tickets from TheOtherPalace.co.uk/ghosted-another-fing-christmas-carol
Photos by Mark Senior