Theatre review – It’s A Wonderful Life

What’s your favourite Christmas film?

The 1946 movie It’s A Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart, is at the top of many people’s list.

I’ve never seen the film, but I have just enjoyed a very entertaining stage version of the story, convincingly re-imagined as a live radio studio recording. And now I understand why it’s considered the ultimate festive feel-good movie. Even when seen in the middle of June.

George Bailey, the central character, is an altruistic idealist in small town America. He helps other people but when he wants to fulfil his own dreams of seeing the world and going to college, circumstances conspire against him.

He ends up reluctantly running his father’s local mortgage business, helping the community to buy their own homes, instead of letting it fall into the hands of the greedy Mr Potter.

Through no fault of his own, George ends up in dire straits and contemplating committing suicide on Christmas Eve, convinced he’s worth more to his family dead than alive.

Enter Clarence, a comic angel looking to earn his wings by saving George.

You can probably guess the way the story goes, even if you haven’t seen the iconic film. This stage production, adapted by Tony Palermo and directed by Guy Retallack, cleverly propels the audience back to the 1940s to share in George’s dilemmas, through the magical medium of the radio recording studio.

The 6 actors convincing play multiple parts, and the 7th provides perfectly timed sound effects in total sync with the plot development and actor’s actions. The ON AIR sign and period product endorsements at the end of each Act add humour and period immersion.

A very enjoyable production of a Wonderful Story. Thanks to my Wonderful Wife Gillian for an imaginative, entertaining birthday present.

 

 

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