Who’d have known Christmas had all but disappeared until Charles Dickens rekindled the nation’s love affair with our most pervasive – and costly, public holiday.
When Dickens penned A Christmas Carol in the 1840s he captured a wave of nostalgia for an event that had been forced out of the English consciousness by Puritan principles.
And look where we are now. A populace seemingly content to go into debt because of a refusal to defer gratification. Tonight the part of Ebenezer Scrooge will be played by me.
That does not mean to say the Birmingham Stage Company’s latest adaptation of Terry Deary’s brilliant Horrible Histories series is not a welcome presence in our Yuletide theatres.
Once again the BSC have put together and engaging, informative and fun whistle-stop tour through the ages as a reminder that December 25 was not always so, er, enjoyable.
Wrapped around the slightly clunky time-travel plot are fascinating vignettes with Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, Henry VIII, St Nicholas and, of course, a trip to Bethlehem.
The script is fast-moving and witty, especially if flatulence is an area of interest and, given the fact the show is unapologetically aimed at primary school children, it probably is.`
The image of Charles Stuart performing a Christmas rap was one that will linger for a while but not more so than the Cromwell family decrying the heretic influence of song and dance – through the medium of song and dance. There was something pleasingly Pythonesque about that.
Not all of the musical interludes are show-stoppers but the acting is first-rate and the pace of the production is such that the time flies.
Except during the periods of the tyranny that is audience participation. Now that really might bring out the Scrooge in all of us.
Runs until January 17, 2015. For more details visit: www.oldreptheatre.org.uk