By Leslie Bricusse
The Lowry, 13 December 2011
Tommy Steele delivers an immaculate performance. Stainless, in fact.
He sings, he dances, he acts. His sense of comic timing is well nigh perfect, raising copious laughter from children and adults alike. When an audience enjoys a show this much, it is difficult to quibble or find fault with it.
James Head as the Ghost of Christmas Present also deserves a mention. His ghost was a magnificent, multicoloured beast in very rude health indeed.
The set evoked nineteenth century London, or a postcard view of it at any roads. And the costumes – the top hats and frockcoats, wigs and waistcoats of the gentry in particular – got me thinking about how you might give Dickens’ famous story a steampunk revamp.
Imagine Scrooge as a mad scientist, not too far-fetched since his view of the world is skewered enough. Perhaps he’s a fervent disciple of Malthus, intent on controlling the surplus population. Usury would be one tool, naturally, and is present in the story as it stands. But what he really needs is a robot army. And instead of ghost and spirits, the forces of good could send around a clockwork mannequin or three to attempt to alter his point of view. Dirigibles would need to be introduced, granted, and perhaps they could serve as a way of combating the robot army from the air. Well, OK, it’s a work in progress.
Scrooge in its present form is perfectly fine. A family-friendly Christmas show, it’s at The Lowry until 7 January, further details can be found here.