Diana Frances, Jeff Gladstone, Bill Pozzobon

We could all use an extra dose of humour during the mad rush of the holidays, and we think we’ve found the perfect indulgence: A Twisted Christmas Carol! Last night’s opening had audiences roaring with laughter as the Arts Club Theatre brought Rock Paper Scissors’ production to Granville Island’s Revue Stage.

Kirk Smith
[Kirk Smith]

The fun starts even before the curtain is raised. Charles Dickens enters the scene, causing a ruckus. He’s upset with just how his classic tale’s been bastardized over the generations. Dickens (dressed in classic Dickensian garb as is the rest of the fine cast) next enlists the audience’s help in making Christmas merry.

Let’s see how we can muck about this classic, shall we? If you can imagine Ebenezer Scrooge owning a gymnasium, you’re on the right track. Each night is different as the events take shape after the audience throws out suggestions.

Diana Frances Jeff Gladstone
[Diana Frances, Jeff Gladstone]

What ensues is a two-act hilarity of scenes, mostly created on the spot by improv mastery courtesy of Diana Frances (Mrs. Cratchit), Jeff Gladstone (Tiny Tim), Gary Jones (Scrooge), Bill Pozzobon (Mr. Cratchit), and Kirk Smith (Dickens). The tale is brought right up to the moment with pokes at modern technology and current events.

A clever use of the stage by way of enormous advent calendar designed by João Carlos d’Almeida, David C. Jones, and Michelle Porter functions with doors of all sizes, revealing everything from a broom closet to Scrooge’s bed.

Gary Jones Bill Pozzobon, Jeff Gladstone
[Gary Jones, Bill Pozzobon, Jeff Gladstone]

As the cuckoo clock above Ebenezer’s bed strikes one, it’s the audience who again decides who the first of three visiting ghosts will be. Narration by Kirk Smith as Dickens is equal parts charm and camp; he spends a good portion of the evening amongst the audience. Expect to leave the theatre in high spirits.

A pair of tickets to A Twisted Christmas Carol would make a great seasonal gift. Just saying.

Gary Jones, Jeff Gladstone
[Gary Jones, Jeff Gladstone]

Directed by John Murphy, the Arts Club’s A Twisted Christmas Carol continues at the Revue Stage theatre through December 27.

Photos by David Cooper.

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