Havant Light Opera bring us Christmas a month early at The Spring with John Gleadall’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this time in the guise of Mean Old Man.
This big-hearted, well-intentioned production brings the story bang up-to-date and into the world of the pay-day loan-shark; Jacob Marley becomes a Rastafarian, and Bob Cratchit’s family are the ultimate in twenty-first century dysfunctionalism.
There’s a distinct whiff of under-rehearsal, though. Some of the ensemble commit to the work and are off-book; others read every word and note from their folders. I have no problem with that as an artistic choice if every member is doing the same thing, but this piecemeal approach is a bit rough round the edges.
Some of the songs are clever – I particularly liked Jacob Marley’s number – and some are rather lovely – particularly the duet for Young Ruby and Older Ruby. There are also less-satisfying songs whose simplicity betrays the show’s origins as a half-hour piece written for junior school-children.
The men are out-sung by the women by a mile, the male ensemble being quite ragged in their attack and lacking in volume.
The enthusiasm of the cast carries it through, though.