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Scrooge and Cratchit get a top-notch comic makeover

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 13, 2013

By A Christmas Carol, Le Navet Bete

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REVIEW

Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, to December 24

If the rubbery facial grimaces of this avant garde bunch of clowns could be bottled, I'd carry them in a hip flask for sense of humour emergencies.

As it was, the clever comedy quartet known as Le Navet Bete had me fighting for breath as each fit of the giggles consumed me during their gut-bustingly funny and wildly imaginative reinvention of Dicken's seasonal story.

You have no choice but to get involved as soon as you take your seat in this fabulously intimate space that depicts the Victorian London of Scrooge and Cratchit with a swivel of a curtained wooden four-poster and a perilous ladder.

The self-confessed "idiots" of the ensemble stride about in silly top hats and stick on mutton chop whiskers, guiding the audience through a fast-paced romp that's as thick with acrobatic slapstick feats as it is with witty wordplay and breakneck costume changes.

It must be a nightmare of discarded garments and props backstage as they disappear as frock-coated gentlemen to reappear seconds later as whimpering maids in bonnets, ghostly apparitions on stilts or – the piece de resistance – crippled Not So Tiny Tim on a baby unicycle.

It's a show that takes the Christmas spirit and smothers it in gleeful tomfoolery. Encore, mes chers Navets.

JACKIE BUTLER

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