This Christmas, Underbelly is putting on a winter version of their South Bank offering, with a spiegeltent and food and craft stalls set up in Leicester Square. We went to the spiegeltent on an appropriately snowy Sunday in December to watch The Fitzrovia Radio Hour’s A Christmas Carol, and found it clever, witty and very well played.
The Fitzradio Radio Hour bills itself as original vintage radio theatre – it is like watching behind the scenes of a radio show in the 1940s. This is unlike any A Christmas Carol you have seen before (and that may be a few) – the original Dickens is adapted by two Fitzradio stalwarts Tom Mallaburn and Jon Edgley Bond – and as well as the underlying story of A Christmas Carol, we are also privy to the back story of the actors who are performing it for the radio show. Famed actor Stanley De Pfeffel has been injured in a performance and cannot continue his long-running depiction of the main character. Fellow actor Ernest Andrew (played by Samuel Collings), who usually plays Tiny Tim, steps on stage at the outset to explain this, but we sense that it is not just dutiful valour which has Andrew going on in De Pfeffel’s place – to play the titular role.
The radio show is set in the 1940s and the talented cast delivers every word in impeccable R.P., with a smattering of regional accents. They are dressed as if this will go out on more than just the radio. There is a great deal of fun to be had in watching them perform the sound effects, created live for us from a whole stageful of props, especially when some of the more outlandish ways to achieve them end in acrobatics and accidents. We also enjoy the product placement when the action pauses for a ‘brought to you by Rathbone’s Gin’ moment.
Of course we soon find that it was no accident that befell the original Scrooge when Michael Lumsden limps on as the injured De Pfeffel just when we are expecting the ghost of Christmas Future. With its decor set beautifully in the past and its tongue set nicely in its cheek, A Christmas Carol by Fitzrovia Radio Hour is a blast and a festive treat that you really should not miss. I took my twelve year old and she too enjoyed it enormously!
hattydaze rating: ****/*****
A Christmas Carol by Fitzradio Radio Hour plays at the Spiegeltent at Christmas in Leicester Square until 30th December 2017. We watched it thanks to press tickets. Check the website here for ticket information.