For those who are unfamiliar with Shitfaced Showtime (used to be Shitfaced Shakespeare), the idea is that a show is cut down to an hour or so in length, then the actors (all professional musical theatre performers) all arrive four hours early and one of them is plied with alcohol until the start of the show. A different actor is ‘the drunk’ each night. When the show starts the compere, in this case Mr Charles Dickens(James Murfitt), hands out some bells and a cracker so that during the show two members of the audience can pause the show and make the drunk actor have another drink. During the show the compere also carries a horn which he uses to freeze the action in an attempt to bring things back to some semblance of the original storyline, or to stop any drunken antics from going too far.
If you’re expecting a genuine retelling of A Christmas Carol, that is not what you’ll get. At this performance it was Katy Baker (Scrooge’s nephew/Ghost of Christmas Past/ Mrs Cratchit) who was drunk, and she had the rest of the cast going off on some hilarious tangents. For example, in scene one, playing Scrooge’s nephew, she suddenly became ‘Mystic Tweg’, handing out predictions to her fellow cast members. Then as Mrs Cratchit she announced that the Cratchit family were in fact con artists and then Tiny Tim had nothing wrong with his leg. Watching the rest of the actors attempt to deal with the drunk rambling and antics is brilliant, and their ability to improvise is impressive, especially given that on this night Baker only seemed to stick to the script occasionally. I also particularly enjoyed the way that some of Baker’s ad libs were picked up by the rest of the cast and became running themes in the rest of the show, which really added to the comedy.
Overall, it’s well worth watching. No two shows are the same, with a different drunk actor each night, so you could go more than once and see a completely different show. It’s a brilliant, adults only alternative to a Christmas panto, and I will bemaking an effort to see any future productions by this company.