Fringe Box



Review: A Christmas Carol, Pub Crawl

Published on: 3 Dec, 2012
Updated on: 3 Dec, 2012

By Flora Windebank

A new professional theatre company in Guildford has made its debut with an intriguing new setup: a play in a pub crawl!

A Christmas Carol: Pubcrawl, sees the audience watching scenes of the Dickensian classic, in a different Guildford pub each time with the opportunity to buy a  new beverage.

Although the idea was interesting and the boundless enthusiasm of the cast impressive, it didn’t quite work as well as it might have. The play adopted quite a pantomime style of acting, with the sort of audience interaction that would be expected in such a show.

The audience was encouraged to sing along, join in the dancing scenes and people were picked out to participate in small roles. However, with a small crowd of adults that didn’t know each other, it felt a bit forced at times. It would have been much better suited to families; children would definitely have loved the interactive nature of the show.

The play begins in the High Street, and from there the audience is led by two cast members to nearby St Mary’s churchyard where they meet Jacob Marley. After a short speech, Marley leads us to the first pub. The pubs visited were The Keep, Pews Bar and the Star Inn with another visit to the St Mary’s between pubs, for the highlight of the show, where a genuinely chilling ‘Ghost of Christmas Future’ shows Scrooge his own grave.

There were pros and cons to such a set up. It was great to be so close to the action, and some of the pubs had atmospheric spaces for the scenes that took place. However, all the walking between scenes made it difficult to stay immersed in the story. As well as this, because the venues were pubs, often the seating was quite haphazard and all you could see for a whole scene was the back of one character’s head. The clinking and murmuring at the bar and background soundtracks some of the pubs were playing was also a little distracting.

Altogether though, the cast were creative, enthusiastic and juggled multiple roles between them well. Although some of the play may have been a little miscalculated, it was a promising introduction from new theatre company, All the World’s A Stage. They are clearly keen to try new things and experiment with new ways of producing shows, and I am sure their next offering will be just as interesting.

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Responses to Review: A Christmas Carol, Pub Crawl

  1. Will THOMAS Reply

    December 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I saw this show last Wednesday (28th November) and my girlfriend and i thought it was brilliant. We stumbled across it be accident after finding a flyer in The Star. I have to say that i find this review a little harsh.
    I thought the show was a great alternative to a boring xmas show or pantomine. So calling it “pantomine style acting” and suggesting that you have to be a child to enjoy audience interaction is borderline offensive to cast and audience who loved it. I suppose each to there own and all. But i say “Horray” to this group who are brave enough and talented enough to try something different and make it work.

    P.S. They are also very nice to chat to at the bar after!

  2. Lillian Wheeler Reply

    December 6, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I have to say, upon reading this review, I agree whole-heartedly with Will!

    I saw this superb and incredibly artistic, ‘fringe’ style production on Wednesday 5th December. As a lecturer of Drama and Performing Arts (PHD) at a London University, to call it a ‘pantomime style of acting’, is quite frankly, criminal to the theatrical world!

    The talented acting from these professionals was of the highest quality in such a challenging environment. Just because audience members are encouraged to participate (which many so called ‘traditional’ theatre companies putting on ‘traditional’ productions, usually don’t have the guts to do!)certainly does not put ‘A Christmas Carol: Pub Crawl’, within the genre of Pantomime!

    “Bravo” to this young and ambitious company for bringing a whole new generation away from their televisions and playstations and out to watch fantastic theatre in fun and creative spaces.

  3. Flora Windebank Reply

    December 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Ok I can definitely appreciate these comments, and that’s fantastic for the company that they have such great support!

    However I do feel both of these comments have reacted a little extremely to what I have said. Interestingly, unlike both of the people above, I do not find pantomime boring at all! I love them, they are fantastic fun, and a great way to celebrate Christmas. What I was saying was not actually an insult. What I was merely saying was, the show had more similarities to a pantomime than say a serious stage show and that as such maybe it would have benefited them to widen their audience out, as it may have worked better. But seeing as people in the audience enjoyed it so much maybe not! Happy to admit I might have been wrong in gauging the overall mood. However I would add that the person I was with agreed with me.

    I also feel a little perturbed by both comments references to ‘boring’ normal shows, and ‘traditional’ productions being gutless. I was much less harsh than that about this show! And as a reviewer insulting mainstream drama to the benefit of one small show is hardly beneficial to anyone, and shows way too much bias. It’s my job to give a totally unbiased review of what I experienced, which I did, however nice they are to talk to in the bar after.

    However lively debate is fantastic and it’s great to have lots of different opinions so people can decide for themselves what they would think! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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