A belated review of Le Navet Bete’s A Christmas Carol
Print Arts + Lit editor, Ella Minty, reviews Le Navet Bete’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol is a classic. Ebenezer Scrooge, a tight-fisted man who lacks Christmas spirit, journeys through the past, present, and future with the ghosts of Christmas who urge him to change his ways. It is one of Charles Dickens’s most famous works, known for promoting Christmas as a time of charity and happiness for all. When I saw that the Northcott Theatre was putting on A Christmas Carol, performed by Exeter-based theatre company Le Navet Bete, I knew I had to go.
Most A Christmas Carol adaptions I have seen have been traditional, following Dickens’s every last word. Le Navet Bete, however, completely subverted my expectations, putting on a pantomime mash-up of the festive classic. Whilst containing every scene within the novella, this company of four actors (playing every part, I must add) parodied the E.T. bicycle scene using the Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge, turned Fezziwig’s party into an interactive raffle with the audience, and performed East 17’s “Stay Another Day” at the end of the show. Physical comedy intertwined with classic Victorian literature might seem weird but strangely enough, it works.
Physical comedy intertwined with classic Victorian literature might seem weird but strangely enough, it works
There was a point in the middle of the show where the silliness was a bit much, as the show became farcical. However, this was quickly overshadowed by the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Future, the novella’s darkest and most serious part. Throughout the play, Le Navet Bete cleverly combined jokes with serious acting; the same actor that played Scrooge throughout the play became a reassuring anchor as madness raged around him. Audience members were bewildered by the constantly changing set and characters, mirroring Scrooge’s emotions as he grapples with the Ghosts.
If you want a different take on Dickens’s classic, this show is for you. Silly, festive, but with a great message, it is an innovative breath of fresh air much needed after a gruelling year. The actors will have you crying with laughter in a whirlwind of physical comedy. Oh, and there’s a life-size exploding Christmas pudding too!