Sh!tfaced Showtime takes a break from their successful run of Shakespeare to give us A Pissedmas Carol! The play begins with Charles Dickens himself (James Murfitt) introducing his beloved tale about the true meaning of Christmas. We learn that material possessions don’t mean anything without family. He then riles the audience up and gets them ready for what’s to come by announcing just how much the chosen actor of the night has had to drink. Murfitt acts as a cross between a narrator, some sort of abusive ringmaster, and perhaps a desperate daycare employee, as he tries to control the wasted Scrooge (Ashley Gerlach for tonight’s performance), who was very much performing his own play.
Despite my reservations, thinking the drunkenness may be pretend or look a little too rehearsed after numerous shows, it really felt as though everything was genuine. A drunken Scrooge caused absolute havoc, making the poor actors subject themselves to turning the play into a Harry Potter spin off, with a little German interlude that reimagined the character of ‘Kleiny Tim’ (Issy Wroe Wright). The cast took everything in their stride and were absolutely hilarious. Scrooge’s constant wandering off the stage, inappropriate jokes, and shouting Slade’s famous refrain ‘It’s Christmasssss’ at random points definitely felt completely impromptu.
Having a couple of beers would without doubt add to this experience, but do not fret; you don’t need to be drunk to enjoy the show! Watching whichever actor lose all inhibition and dignity is a good enough incentive to make you want to stay sober forever.
However, don’t be fooled. Although the play is an absolute joke, the cast are still incredibly talented. Quick wit, the ability to improvise, and a ridiculous sense of humour are a given for this type of performance, but their spectacular singing voices surprised me, as they sang all of your favourite Christmas songs, accompanied by a pianist, including some requests from our smashed Scrooge.
An improvised show like this only makes me want to see it again and again, to discover just how different it can be every night, with a different character drunk each time, alongside a rolling cast. Although I was fortunate enough to have Scrooge be the drunken fool, the multi-roling from all the other characters allows them all to have significant stage time, so any single one of them having been chosen would allow for enough shenanigans regardless. A mix of a musical, Christmas panto and some literature makes this the perfect wintery night out.
Producer: Issy Wroe Wright, James Murfitt
Director: Katy Baker
Musical Director: Charlotte Brooke
Lighting: Jess Davies
Photography: Rah Petherbridge
Original Sh!t-faced Concept: Lewis Ironside, Chris Snelson, Sh!t-Faced Showtime
Creative Director: Issy Wroe Wright
Sh!tfaced Showtime A Pissedmas Carol plays at Leicester Square Theatre until 7 January. Further information and bookings can be found here.