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Review of Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves at Theatre 503

Sleeping Trees
Sleeping Trees, Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves – courtesy of David Monteith-Hodge

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to know that I used to enjoy the series ‘Glee’. Part of the reason for this was the way they used to do ‘mash-ups’ where they took two completely different songs and interweaved them together to form one complete tune – for example, ‘Don’t Stand So Close to me’ and ‘Young Girl’. I mention this because, for the second year running, Sleeping Trees Theatre Company have done a similar thing and put two Christmas stories together to present their rendition of Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves, which they are presenting at Theatre 503.

This is not your average fringe Christmas show and the show starts with the Sleeping Trees – Joshua George Smith, John Woodburn and James Dunnell-Smith – telling the audience about the scale of the production we are about to see. With its cast of thirty, professional writing and huge sets, this audience member’s appetite was certainly well and truly whetted by their description and their promise that the events of last year – where they forgot to book any actors – would definitely not be repeated this year.

One cold Christmas Eve night, Santa and his elves are preparing for another busy night. The reindeer are ready and the sleigh is packed, there is just one problem; the sleigh won’t start! The Wicked Witch has stolen all of the Christmas spirit! Santa looks to the most unlikely of heroes to save the day; the grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge. Will Scrooge manage to change his ways and save Christmas?

I’m not going to tell you much more about the plot – in fact, I basically lifted the information above from the flyer – and this is because, in order to fully appreciate the work that has gone into Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves, you really need to experience it. However, there are a couple of things I will say. First, when life gives you lemons, well, you should really know what to do with them. Second, Tiny Tim may be small and, in my opinion, the most irritating character in any Christmas story (I’ve never liked him) – but that boy can really rap. Finally, and this is possibly the most important thing I’ve learned in a lifetime of going to the theatre, every pantomime that wishes to be taken seriously and appreciated as a genuine work of art, has to include a lobster.

I think it’s safe to say that, without going too far down the spoiler road, Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves is a fine example of how a pantomime can deliver a really fantastic night for everybody. Child or adult, I can pretty much guarantee – unless your name really is Ebenezer Scrooge – that you will have a good time. Josh, John and James, have put together a show that works on every level and while managing to keep virtually all of the traditional pantomime elements, have turned the genre into something fit for the twenty-first century. The writing is extremely good and the three guys have a wonderful chemistry, mutual respect and trust between them, so that when unexpected things happen – such as the world’s campest magic mirror falling on the floor – they manage to keep the show and each other going.

As an audience member, I have to say Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves was absolutely brilliant. I do love a good Christmas panto and this was one of the finest I’ve seen in many a long year. From the start, the show grabbed my attention and held onto it right through to the end – with a wonderful cliff-hanger of an ending to Act I which kept me thinking throughout the interval. The show is fun, irreverent enjoyable, never patronising or taking itself too seriously and, most importantly, very respectful to the pantomime genre, and the audience responded well to all of that. There is a comment on the flyer saying “if you only see one panto this season, see this one” well I have to agree. I’m a firm believer that Christmas should not even be mentioned until December but any show that can get an old curmudgeon like me leaving a theatre, on a cold Monday in November, full of Christmas spirit and ready to face the festive season head on, has got to have something really magical about it. Oh no it hasn’t! Oh yes it definitely has!!

5 Star Rating

Review by Terry Eastham

One cold Christmas Eve night, Santa and his elves are preparing for another busy night. The reindeer are ready and the sleigh is packed, there is just one problem; the sleigh won’t start! The Wicked Witch has stolen all of the Christmas spirit! Santa looks to the most unlikely of heroes to save the day; the grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge. Will Scrooge manage to change his ways and save Christmas? Will the boys make it to Hollywood?! And what do the seven Dwarves have to do with ANY of this? Dust the snow from your shoes and head down to Theatre 503 this Christmas to find out…

Scrooge & the Seven Dwarves
The Three Man Family Pantomime
23 Nov – 7 January (times vary per performance)
https://theatre503.com/

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