The Bah Humbug Club is a fantastically funny and culturally aware play which, not only tells the story of 4 unlikely strangers who come together at Christmas through their hatred of the holidays, but also tackles several news and political movements over the last few years. Just like Ebenezer Scrooge in the book from which the play gets its title, by the end of the play you do find yourself in the spirit of Christmas.
I attended the performance on the opening night, Thursday the 8th of December 2022, like many opening nights issues can arise, lucky for the cast the only issue that was noticeable was the delayed start time, for the rest of the performance flew by with a mixture of clever situational comedy, intense romance, drama and some multi-media news bulletins. The performance begins in the year 1999 in a rented Scottish lodge and moves through time until present day where the characters reconvene every year up to present day, in a group they call ‘The Bah Humbug Club’.
The first character on stage was the very lovely widow Pauline, a gentle elf collector who was spending her first Christmas alone in 1999. Erin Geraghty brought this character to life with her trade mark wide eyed looks, the audience immediately fell in love with her from the moment she scuttled off into the kitchen for a minced pie. Pauline is arguably the main protagonist of the performance, being the one who comes up with the name, and brings pease to the other characters when they become hostile at the realisation they have all been double booked on their vacation.
Second to the party was Jane, played by local actress Rosie Coles, this feisty young girl turned internet troll arrives at the house in 1999 expecting a passionate week with her male-friend, but fate has other plans. The character of Jane treads a fine line with the audience between being respected and being condemned, writer Carolyn Scott-Jeffs cleverly balances the negative elements of Janes personality, with fun comedic moments and times of forgiveness and redemption. But does she find her forever love in the Bah Humbug Club?
My personal favourite character was Fred, a loveable rogue played by excellent musician and actor Danny Horn. Freds character development is so vivid throughout the performance, you see him at each stage of his life and career, as a character (and actor) the story telling of his marriage, work and children outside of the Christmas period are so rich in detail it negates the need to see any more than is needed, which helps to keep up the fast pace of the performance. The prize for funniest moment comes as Beck Grieg, playing the character of Andy finally speaks after a whole scene as a selective mute. Andy’s character deals with issues such as gender identity, being the victim of online bullying and veganism (the most controversial I’m sure you’ll agree), however the tough exterior of this gender neutral character teamed with their inner need to be accepted comes to life when surrounded by the three other members of the Bah Humbug Club.
During the covid-19 pandemic I grew ever more aware of the effect this would have on the theatre, not only the closures of many shows and the mounds of creatives who found themselves out of work, but also that the two year experience would be the topic that everyone would like to address. Covid-19 for me is like seeing a comedian talk about Brexit, after four or five jokes, there is no fresh angle to take on Brexit, after lockdown believe me there are no fresh angles on the Coronavirus; Two shows I’ve seen this year have been derailed as audiences became disengaged by talk of Corona, Nick Helms stand up show and John Godbers latest re-work of his classic Shakers. It is therefore with great pleasure I doth my hat and bow to the writer Carolyn Scott-Jeffs for dealing with covid in the correct manner - address it, acknowledge that it happened, and move on, thank you!
The play was an overwhelming success, the cast, crew and creatives should be very proud of what was achieved, a very light hearted Christmas play that was both hilariously funny and brilliantly moving without falling into any clichés of what a Christmas story has to be or should look like. The Bah Humbug Club is a wonderfully fresh take on what a Christmas show ought to be.
The show’s run continues until the 27th of December 2022 with both afternoon matinee performances and evening shows at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre.