By: Alison Silveira and Paul Lewkowicz
The Second City’s production of Twist Your Dickens – a comedic spoof on the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol – is an entertaining take on the classic Christmas story. Starring Seán Cullen as Scrooge alongside Patrick McKenna and many talented actors playing multiple roles, the show incorporates puns, historical and contemporary references, and improv to provide for an entertaining evening at the theatre.
Whether it was poking fun at the recent U.S. presidential election or public protests, mocking past traditions or popular culture from specific decades, or offering comedic reflections on classic Christmas stories, Twist Your Dickens flipped Dickens’ story on its head while keeping the show's original plot line, but also creating spontaneity at the same time.
Prior to the show, members of the audience were encouraged to write a 'misdeed' that they had done in the past. Some of these misdeeds were cleverly used in the show and woven into the storyline on more than one occasion to make for some great laughs. In addition, the cast skillfully incorporated impromptu suggestions from the audience for their improv sketches, including the outlandish story of a lady's boyfriend who is a plumber and enjoys taming lions.
Cullen did not even have to utter a word to elicit a laugh; his facial expressions said it all. He was able to capture the spirit of Scrooge, while embracing the performances of the rest of the cast and adapting to themes suggested by the audience. The rest of the cast seamlessly moved from one role to the next, complementing Cullen’s key role. One funny role was that of a cast member portraying an audience member who pokes holes in the historical accuracies of the show, whether it be the use of modern props or the weaving in of contemporary themes.
Twist Your Dickens uses slapstick humour and audience engagement to appeal to diverse audiences. This show is certainly worth seeing and will add good-humoured holiday cheer to the festive season!
Twist Your Dickens runs until December 30, 2016 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts (5040 Yonge Street). Tickets are available for sale at: https://www.ticketmaster.ca/Second-Citys-Twist-Your-Dickens-tickets/artist/2284148?tm_link=seo_bc_name.
Photo by Paul Aihoshi.