Olivier awar winning Hartshorn-Hook productions team up with MasterChef winner Natalie Coleman to bring us A Christmas Carol at Scrooge’s Parlour, staged by The Flanagan Collective in a drafty warehouse near Liverpool Street in London.
We all know the classic Charles Dickens tale of the miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by three ghosts to turn around his anti-social ways before it is too late. A Christmas Carol is such a staple in Christmas, having the chance to be a part of the story sounded just wonderful.
We were invited to Scrooge’s parlour, which happened to be a warehouse-like space made to look like a Victorian home with few decorations apart from several long tables and sparse furniture. Very befitting of Ebenezer being the greedy cheapskate he is known to be, the room was bitterly cold. Luckily blankets were provided but sitting down to have a dining experience in full coat, scarf and hat is something I didn’t quite expect.
Jacob Marley welcomes us to the parlour and explains his desire to reform his former colleague and reconsider his ways. For this purpose, he will make us invisible to Mr. Scrooge for the first part of the evening, before inviting us to his home to show him how wonderful it is to have friends and share with them in the spirit of Christmas.
Through a condensed version of the classic tale, rewritten by Alexander Wright for this purpose, we witness how a young Ebenezer grows into the grumpy old man we have come to know so well through myriad depictions year after year. Encouraged by Marley to sing carols, we surprise Scrooge with our presence and he is very reluctant to share his hard earned food with us. But as the feast begins, we have a chance to chat with Scrooge about the true meaning of Christmas and encourage him to open his heart.
As the food comes out, we finally have a chance to warm up a little. We were fed roast turkey, pigs in blankets, with chestnut and mushroom parcels as the vegetarian option, roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots, spiced red cabbage, pork sage and onion stuffing, and of course Brussels sprouts.
Most of the food was decent, but nothing special. From a MasterChef winner I had really expected more. The turkey was on the dry side and everything else more of a mid-range Sunday roast from a pub than a true dining experience.
For dessert we had clementine and pomegranate pavlova with orange blossom cream and mulled spice syrup. Out of all that, the orange blossom cream was the best part. The dessert was definitely better than the main, but still nothing super special and the description sounded better than the result tasted.
After the feast, the story concluded with Scrooge, of course, embracing Christmas and celebrating with all of us. He got so excited, that he ran outside to should MERRY CHRISTMAS at random passersby, which was hugely entertaining.
While the food was nothing special, the whole show, setting and full immersion absolutely made it an unforgettable event. I highly recommend giving it a go during the pre-Christmas season, it’s well worth it. Five rainbow sloths from me.