Review: Mean Old Man at The Spring, Havant

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Jan Ravens

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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 21st 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 and some are rather lovely. There are also less-satisfying songs whose simplicity betrays the show’s origins as a half-hour piece written for junior schoolchildren.

But the enthusiasm of the cast carries it through.