‘Tis a cold evening in modern London town. As a foreboding year draws to a close, this is an audience sorely in need of some Yuletide cheer. Can comedy trio Sleeping Trees provide these chilly city-dwellers with the festive spirit they’re looking for?
In short, yes. Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves is just the tonic to chase away any 2016 (or other) blues. The show gives us 90 minutes of fun, pure and simple, with nary a topical reference in sight. If you and your family (or you and your cynical mates) are craving joyful, silly escapism, get yourselves some tickets to this pantomime.
The three members of Sleeping Trees have written a swell new show for all us boys and girls, but for the third year running they have forgotten to book a thirty-strong cast. Following the realisation of this terrible blunder comes the much more exciting discovery that there is a Hollywood casting director in the stalls (who also turned out to be my companion, Ashley), looking to cast three actors in the new blockbuster Pantomime: The Movie. Once they find an “audience member” (the talented composer and instrumentalist Ben Hales) to act as their band for the evening, the trio decide to seize the opportunity, and showcase their skills by doing the whole show on their own.
This isn’t your traditional panto; we are not given some familiar fairy tale, but rather an original narrative story stuffed with favourite festive and childhood characters. On the evening of the 24th of December, Santa Claus is horrified to find that the wicked witch has stolen all the Christmas cheer. Without this cheer – which powers all things Xmas – the holiday will be ruined. Only one man can save it: the famously unfestive Ebeneezer Scrooge. What follows is a narrative that jumps between old Victorian London, Lapland and Fairy Tale Land, and which is studded with musical numbers, multiple costume changes and a well executed piece of audience interaction involving lemons.
The whole show delights in the absurd, and is fabulously funny throughout. With great self-discipline, I will hold off from sharing my favourite jokes – save to say, watch out for that dinosaur and a particularly well-timed parody of one of this year’s most popular pop tunes. In addition to creating such a fun script, the writers also demonstrate fantastic energy as performers. All three delight their spectators no end, especially John Woodburn, who not only nailed Scrooge and Sneezy, but also managed to make the audience reconsider the true comedic potential of The Magic Mirror.
What makes the show more charming still is how much the three comedians enjoy acting in it. It is clear that they all find each other really funny, and terribly enjoyable company, and this is as heart-warming as the show’s character development. It is fun to watch these guys, and their ‘band’ (who has comedic timing as impeccable as his musical ability) have fun.
“They just wanted to make us happy,” Ashley smiled, after the concluding number, “and they did.” And really, what greater praise can one offer a brilliant, bonkers pantomime?
Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves is on until 7th January 2017. Click here for more details.