Pros: An amazing traditional Christmas meal coupled with a novel production of the greatest of all festive stories.
Cons: Although delicious, the meal broke the story’s rhythm and it took time to pick up the threads afterwards.
The story begins with Jacob Marley, excitedly racing around the set explaining why he had visited Scrooge on this night. Jack Whitam is never less than entertaining in the role and his performance gave more than a passing nod to Tim McInnerny playing Lord Percy in Blackadder II. The first half of the story ran along reasonably conventional lines but then broke half way through for the food to be served. One sensed rumbling stomachs as the first half seemed to drag on – only dragging because we were looking forward to the meal. The food was a pure delight; a hearty meat pie, carrots, potatoes and sausages topped off with rich gravy. There was a vegetarian option featuring a pie made of pumpkin, kale and goat’s cheese. Desert comprised of mince pies, Christmas pudding and a cheeseboard. With mulled wine available to purchase at the licensed bar, little more could be asked. Marley and Scrooge, played with relish by Al Barclay, wandered around chatting with guests and helped the waitresses when needed. The only down side as we pulled our crackers and donned party hats was that we’d forgotten where the story had got to; whilst Al Barclay and Jack Whitam quickly pulled the story back on track, the meal created an extended interval that didn’t serve the story as well as it should.
The production overall was an enjoyable romp through a story that needs little introduction. However, the food tended to overshadow other elements of the performance and Danny Jack deserves tremendous credit for a menu brimming with flavour. However, the strength and durability of the story shone brightly and benefited from an innovative production. Brilliant fun, but if you go along, skip lunch because you’ll need to make room for the upcoming feast!
Author: Charles Dickens
Adapted by: Alexander Wright
Director: Tom Bellerby
Producer: Hartshorn-Hook Productions and the Flanagan Collective
Catering: Danny Jack and the Humble Kitchen
Box Office: 020 7836 8463
Booking Link: https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/the-flanagan-collectives-a-christmas-carol-(dinner-theatre)/
Booking until: 31 December 2016