Dreaming of a Barry White Christmas
Echo Arena 2, Liverpool
Author / Director: Dave Kirby
December 17 – December 21
Producer: Dickie Lewis Productions
Cast: Andrew Schofield, Gillian Hardie, Keddy Sutton, Paul Duckworth, Lenny Wood, Alan Stocks
Running Time: 2 hrs 45 mins
If ever the phrase “Get Your Tickets While You Can” was appropriate, then Dave Kirby’s new play / musical / farce / joy – Dreaming of a Barry White Christmas – is surely it, not only because it is an hilarious show based – all be it VERY loosely – on Alistair Sim’s portrayal of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, but also because it is only on for FIVE shows.
As is his wont, Dave Kirby has once again identified precisely what it is the populist theatre-going audience of Liverpool want; to laugh, sing and dance out loud and so forget whatever troubles they may have if only for a couple of hours.
That the cast he has assembled is supremely talented is an obvious benefit and in Andrew Schofield and Lenny Wood, Kirby has two of the city’s greatest comic actors to work with and both of them deliver superbly well as Thomas Minge, the irascible owner of a run-down toilet roll manufacturing factory, and Wayne, his lazy, Rave loving Work Experience employee. As much as it has been said previously, here are two actors at the very top of their game and it is from these two that the show’s energy derives.
In Keddy Sutton and Gillian Hardie, Kirby has not only two superb vocalists but also two actors cut from the finest cloth. Sutton, as a scatty down-and-out woman, and Hardie as Louise, the secretary with a big heart and not a lot of sense, are quite simply outstanding.
Alan Stocks as Jimmy, the loser with a weird fetish and a not-so-well hidden secret, and Paul Duckworth as Mouse, the 40 + trouble maker who lives at home with his mum, combine brilliantly to hold the proceedings together in such a way that it becomes less of a Christmastime show and more of Festive Theatrical Experience.
The massive, split set depicting both Minge’s bedroom and his downstairs factory office and both the parodies of Soul classics and the recordings of Barry White’s songs all add to the atmosphere brilliantly, so it is a bit of a shame that the second half – at 1 hour 20 minutes – dilutes some of the p’zazz that had been so brilliantly built throughout the first.
This, however, is a very minor quibble and what audiences are left with is a night out guaranteed to have those quick witted enough to get tickets to be laughing all the way home and spontaneously giggling over their turkey dinners.