Christmas spirit done (horribly, terribly) right

By Greg Gould

The cast of A Christmas Carol Goes Horribly, Terribly Wrong by Kirsty Budding (photo by Greg Gould)

The festive season is upon us. For most, this means crowded malls, dodgy office parties, and dodgier family reunions. For local theatre company Budding Theatre, it means recruiting forty or so of your favourite local actors and putting on a new Christmas comedy.


Written and directed by Budding Theatre founder Kirsty Budding, A Christmas Carol Goes Horribly, Terribly Wrong takes us behind the scenes of a disastrously funny community theatre rendition of Charles Dickens’ yuletide classic.


The play kicks off with co-directors (Bertram O’Brien and Robert Karlen) giving the assembled cast and crew some blunt feedback about their latest dress rehearsal. However, due to a miscommunication backstage, they soon discover that the opening night audience has already arrived, and the show has already begun.

Actors Robert Karlen and Bertram O’Brien play clashing community theatre co-directors.

From there calamity begets calamity as cast and crew scramble to get the production on track. Cues are missed, lines are forgotten, props are misplaced, stage mums stage-manage, backstage relationships spill onstage, critics start cruelly critiquing.


But still, the show must go on.


Inspired by the popularity of The Play That Goes Wrong and Noises Off, Budding’s new farce pokes fun at the chaotic nature of community-based theatre — particularly the close-knit local scene.


She says it’s also a reminder that theatre is supposed to be fun.


“Sometimes theatre takes itself too seriously, especially when it aims to be high-brow and elite,” said Budding.


“Most people I meet who aren’t theatre performers think of theatre as a place where you sit bored and uncomfortable for two hours. I try to write for this general audience — people who just want to have a laugh and a fun night out.”

Her desire to entertain across the board was a big reason Budding chose A Christmas Carol as the subject for the spoof.


“It’s a classic, and everyone knows what’s supposed to happen, so it’s ideal for a play-within-a-play where things go wrong,” said Budding. “There’s also a lot of characters, which is perfect for a big Christmas show.”


Though traditionally a quiet time for stage productions, this is the fourth year running Budding Theatre has embraced the pre-Christmas period to put on a show.


Despite being called the “silly season”, Budding says the festive period brings a more relaxed and joyous atmosphere to the theatre.


“Everyone tends to be happy and excited for Christmas, and that comes across on stage. People just want to come together, meet new people, and have fun. Audiences also get more drunk at Christmas, which doesn’t hurt when you’re staging comedy.”


A Christmas Carol Goes Horribly, Terribly Wrong is at Belconnen Theatre from 11 – 15 December. Bookings through buddingtheatre.com.


Note: this show contains strong language suitable for teenagers and adults. We recommend you leave the youngsters home with Santa’s helpers for the night.

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