REVIEW - The Bah Humbug Club at Lichfield's Garrick Theatre is a real Christmas cracker - The Bromsgrove Standard

REVIEW - The Bah Humbug Club at Lichfield's Garrick Theatre is a real Christmas cracker

Bromsgrove Editorial 24th Dec, 2022 Updated: 24th Dec, 2022   0

Bravo to the Lichfield Garrick for breaking the Christmas mould with this highly watchable premiere by edgy Midlands playwright Carolyn Scott-Jeffs.

Entitled ‘The Bah Humbug Club’, you could be forgiven for expecting a play about a Charles Dickens appreciation society when actually it is about a far more exclusive group of society misfits.

The play starts on Christmas Eve 23 years ago where we meet four people thrown together by chance when they rent what they each think is a house for their own personal use over the festive period.

Well, to be precise three rent it , one – namely Andy – just breaks in expecting it to be empty. However, after getting over the shock of finding they ‘are not alone’, they bond over a mutual loathing for ’all things traditional’ about Christmas.

Now chums, they invent their own games, eat drink and get merry to the point of forming a unique alliance, ‘The Bah Humbug Club.’  The rules are simple: for the rest of each year they will get on with their lives as normal with no contact between them, but at Christmas they will reassemble at the same rented house and party in their own style ’til saying goodbye come New Years Day.

We join them for four of those Christmases – ending this very year with the joining up of all the myriad of story lines we have been privileged to eavesdrop on. No spoilers from me, but the finale is joyous icing on a very clever cake.

Director Nicky Cox more than does justice to Scott-Jeff’s challenging multi-scene and vignette-studded script structure. With often demanding text to tackle to boot, Cox moves the action at a frenetic pace through a multitude of costume changes as well as years – yet it appears more ‘gentle stroll’ than ‘gallop’ for this well drilled cast.

Danny Horn plays Fred, a nice guy who looks for the good in everyone – but is kicked in the teeth more often than not for his troubles.

That’s a literal when he gets to deliver Jane’s baby on the sofa in one of the Christmases.

Rosie Coles is the free spirited Jane who seemingly drops her pants all year round to everyone, but goes celibate at Christmas when it comes to Fred. She also has a dark secret of being an Internet troll. Likable and loathsome is not an easy combo to like – but we do.

Beck Greig plays a gender fluid character called Andy. It’s a role, which naturally leaves more questions than answers and Greig handles it with confidence evoking first our curiosity then our sympathy when their mother rejects them.

Making up the quartet is Erin Geraghty as mother of four  (and for one reason or another estranged from them all) as team Humbug leader, Pauline.

Individually the actors are excellent – collectively as a company they are in perfect harmony.

John Brooking has designed a set that works perfectly, making use of every available onstage space to provide an excellent acting area whilst cleverly making the offstage areas appear much bigger than possible. The word ‘Tardis’ comes to mind.

The ending could be tweaked each year so that the final Christmas is a movable feast – but no doubt the talented Ms Scott-Jeffs has already thought of that. Undoubtedly the ‘Bah Humbug Club’ has a future beyond its Garrick premiere.

I’m not sure we need quite so much information about what is happening current event wise, just an anchor more than a Wikipedia outing before every scene – but this is just a mere niggle in what is an exciting and actually heart-warming piece of theatre. The Tiny Tim moment at the end,  for which I repeat will not be giving spoilers, evokes between a gasp and a tear (or both).

Not much time left so I highly encourage you to make a journey to Lichfield and catch it while you can.

The Bah Humbug Club runs at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre until Tuesdat December 27.

Click here for times, tickets and more information.




Review by Euan Rose 

Euan Rose Reviews

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