Review: Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves (Theatre503)
Following last year's Cinderella and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Trees return to Theatre503 with another pantomime mashup
Christmas film buffs will recognise the basic plot of this latest offering from comedy trio Sleeping Trees; the levels of Christmas cheer have dwindled so much that Santa's sleigh won't fly. But most won't expect the following two hours to perfectly blend the stories of Dickens, Snow White, The Wizard of Oz and a spoonful of Mary Poppins.
Confronted with the horror of a cancelled Christmas, Mrs Santa looks to an unlikely source for help, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. To help save Christmas - and Bob Cratchit's unwell son Tiny Tim - he must travel to Fairytale Land and discover the real meaning of being good.
Along the way he meets Snow White and her dwarves, Mary Poppins, the Tin Man and the Wizard of Oz, there's also cameos from Rudolph, a T-Rex and a giant lobster. All of which are played by just three people, after they 'failed to book' their cast of 30.
In lesser able hands the relatively complex storyline would be a mess, but here it's a delight. Simon Evans' direction allows John Woodburn, James Dunnell-Smith and Joshua George Smith to scoot on and off the stage in their various guises with ease and pizzazz.
There's less songs in this pantomime than others in town - perhaps a good thing considering the quality of the cast's singing voices doesn't match that of their comic acting - nevertheless the musical interludes are funny, original and range from '80s electropop to a barbershop quartet slash rap mashup. All fantastically led by 'Ben from the audience' - otherwise known as musical director Ben Hales.
Zahra Mansouri's design transforms Theatre503's tiny space into a treasure chest of imagination as scenes flip between Victorian London, Fairytale Land and Lapland.
During the interval I heard a mother ask her small child if they were enjoying the show, "It's absolutely ridiculous, I love it" she replied, and I couldn't put it any better myself.
Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves runs at Theatre503 until 7 January 2017.