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A Dickens of a twist for tale

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 07, 2013

By A Christmas Carol by Le Navet Bete

Le Navet Bete put their own spin on Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, this Christmas

Le Navet Bete put their own spin on Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, this Christmas

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Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, today until Christmas Eve

Times is hard. The gap between rich and poor has never been wider. That makes Charles Dickens' great tale about the divide, A Christmas Carol, a story for today.

Small Devon company Le Navet Bete will retell the classic ghost story in their own inimitable fashion at Plymouth's Barbican Theatre this Christmas.

"The Barbican commissioned us to make the show. It was quite a big risk for them, but it has worked spectacularly. The ticket sales have been absolutely crazy, completely beyond everybody's imagination."

A Christmas Carol is the Barbican Theatre's fastest-selling show ever. Much of that, of course, is down to Le Navet's track record. The core of the troupe of high-energy clownish exponents of physical and funny theatre got together in 2006 on Plymouth University's performing arts course when it was based at Rolle College in Exmouth.

Since then it's been a hilarious blur of acclaimed productions, including 2012's "nativity" at the Barbican, The Greatest Story Never Told, and Once Upon A Time In A Western, earlier this year.

The four performers, Al, Nick Bunt, Matt Freeman and Dan Bianchi, play multiple roles, with the emphasis more on sending themselves up than poking fun at their material.

The clue is in the name: the rough translation is Daft Turnip. So Christmas Carol won't be a traditional version.

"We are not trying to put the book on the stage," says Al. "This is about four idiots – total idiots – telling what they think is the story. If you know the story you might get a few extra laughs but that's not important.

"We have given it a twist. There is a lot of fantasy in the story – the ghosts, for example – so that gives us quite a lot to play with for comedy."

Some changes were inevitable. "It is Not So Tiny Tim. He has to be with four grown men on stage."

The result, as ever with Le Navet shows, is "a story for adults with children in mind" with a rough age guide of six or seven upwards.

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