Globe columnist Peter Grant meets up with Toby Park who is playing Scrooge in the Liverpool Playhouse’s merry madcap offering of A Christmas Carol...

SPYMONKEY are not what you would call an ordinary theatre company.

And their adaptation of A Christmas Carol - although a tinsel-coated traditional version - comes with a twist... and I don’t mean Oliver.

Toby Park plays the old candle-holding, night-shirted skinflint in this vibrant interpretation – a joint production with the Everyman and Playhouse here on Merseyside until January 12.

Toby’s three versatile fellow cast members - Aitor, Petra and Sophie - play a multitude of roles from Tiny Tim to the other Cratchits.

And there’s a live band who can turn their hands to a ‘mix of stuff’ from folk to pop to funk as well as a Salsa version of All I Want For Christmas Is You. They hint at audience participation either on Blondie’s Heart of Glass and Nirvana’s Teen Spirit.

I joined the quirky crew at Liverpool’s Bridewell prison- turned-bar where the great Charles Dickens worked as a special constable to research his writings about poverty and social injustice.

Over a bowl of steaming hot punch and some humbugs, Tony told the Globe that it is a seasonal show for everyone - of all ages.

"People have expectations of A Christmas Carol and we are well aware of that."

Great expectations, indeed, I say?

He laughs at my novel remark before being deadly serious: "Playing Liverpool is always a joy.

"Merseyside audiences are one of the best in the country. They get what you are doing and they go for it. They are what I call ‘class blind’ when it comes to the arts - they are open to new ideas.

"I am not saying that to curry favour. We applaud everything that the Everyman and Playhouse especially have done.

"There is a welcome here that you don’t get in other parts of the country."

The Brighton-based, International company were last here with their quirky look at all of Shakespeare’s 75 on stage dramatic fatalities in The Complete Deaths.

They will be back with ‘Cooped’ in June a cross between the Pink Panther and Alfred Hitchcock movies before taking it to the States.

For now the critically-acclaimed, award-winning innovators, clowns and ground-breakers are setting their inventive minds into the festive tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s and his redemption.

They will be breaking the theatrical ‘fourth wall’ as usual and then building it up and then knocking it down again, assures Toby who says Michael Caine was the best big screen Scrooge.

"I have a friend coming over from Switzerland who loves the book – it’s his all-time favourite.

"It has to be right for him and for everyone who loves the timeless story."

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be big, irreverent laughs to be had.

Toby says: "My favourite scene is Scrooge pleading to have a second chance. It is moving and ultimately uplifting."

And re-lighting his candle before heading back to rehearsals, Toby had this spirited message for Wirral Globe readers.

"Come and don your best Victorian bib-and-tuckers and hold on to your hats, as you're whisked through Victorian London and beyond, led by the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future on a flight of theatrical fancy.

"We want everyone to leave the theatre with a very real sense of joy."

Spidermonkey’s A Christmas Carol at Liverpool Playhouse until January 12, 2019

Tickets are available from the box office by calling 0151 709 4776 or visit