THEATRE REVIEW: A Christmas Carol-ish by Mr Swallow starring Nick Mohammed & Sarah Hadland

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2 RUNTIME: 80 minutes (no interval)

WHEN?: Saturday 10 December (matinee), runs to 23 December 2022

We’re in the front row here because Mohammed (2nd from left above) is very funny as part of the ensemble in Apple TV’s hilarious Ted Lasso and stars here while also writing the book and lyrics.

  • Read on for reasons including how Hadland from TV’s Miranda gets to perform the giblets out of the hit of the night I Love My Turkey

He plays Mr Swallow who failed to get the full rights to perform A Christmas Carol and so his version features self-penned songs and has a ‘scroogey Santa’ at its heart.

Mohammed’s Mr Swallow is Santa and surrounds himself with partner Mr Goldsworth, played by David Elms who portrays most of the ghosts, Jonathan as a reindeer called Rudolph and cruise ship singer Rochelle Kelly, given life by Miranda‘s fabulous Hadland, who is on call to understudy for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Mr Swallow’s Santa is lazy and doesn’t want to deliver presents to children on Christmas Eve and we get to understand him a little better during original song Being Santa Claus which includes lines like: ‘I stink of reindeer dung’ and ‘No one quite gets it apart from those who voted Brexit.’

Jonathan is an aspiring actor constantly being denied speaking parts by Mr Swallow who is working on a budget and concerned he might have to pay the reindeer actor more.

1 of the musical’s funniest moments is when Rudolph – played by Kieran Hodgson – appears to be taking inspiration from ‘Rudolf Hess’ and even sings carol Silent Night in German to prove it.

There are also low budget moments where Mr Swallow and Mr Goldsworth as 1 of a number of the ghosts visiting Santa spin across the stage to signify going back in time as our hero gets to observe moments in both his past and future.

We also enjoyed Mr Swallow as a midwife as a birth scene involving Joseph, Mary and Jesus doesn’t go quite as planned.

For us though the stand-out moments iwere those nvolving Hadland’s Rochelle who is desperate to perform 1 of her own songs and eventually gets to do so which sounded to these ears as riffing on Bonnie Tyler’s anthemic Holding Out For A Hero while actually musing on the fate of a giant turkey at Christmas time.

As she did in Miranda, Hadland brings the same amount of committed craziness to the part and it’s laugh-out-loud funny in a production that combines the awkwardness of something like TV’s The Office but with an off-the-wall Christmas theme.

We were sat in the front row and feared we might be invited onstage, an honour which actually befell the young man sat next to us who was granted a Christmas wish for doing so.

We loved Mohammed in Ted Lasso, haven’t seen him in much else but came away from this thinking what a real comic genius he is.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy Soho Theatre Tickets
  • Have you seen A Christmas Carol before and what did you think of this 1?
  • Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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