Christmas can be tough, and nothing resonates that feeling better than the 1946 Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life. As the original film runs everywhere on the TV schedule, why not watch it live, in the cosy setting of St John’s Cornerstone Cafe, whilst helping out those who struggle most this Christmas?
Tamas Fazakas, the Edinburgh-based Hungarian actor, adapted this classic Christmas story for the stage, utilising the small space of St John’s Cafe to explore the downfall and subsequent resolve of George Bailey; a man who gives up his dreams to constantly help others – only to find himself on the verge of suicide on Christmas eve.
Bailey, portrayed by Fazakas, takes command of the small stage throughout the show. He is a nice, gentle, nervous character whose tempter flares when things start to go wrong. Through pained smiles he eventually loses his money and begins howling at the sinister Henry F. Potter, played by Ben Blow in an equally fantastic, almost Tim Currie-esque, performance.
As the situation deteriorates – his marriage, home, children and tenants all at risk – he realises (or believes) he is worth more dead than alive. Bailey jumps from a bridge with his $15,000 life insurance policy tucked in his pocket, wishing he had never been born – a wish granted by his guardian angel Clarence, hellbent on getting her wings.
If you’re one of many who have seen the Capra classic, you’ll know the rest. For those who haven’t seen the movie, what Fazakas and stage manager, Taryn Morrison, achieve is a solid retelling of a classic, with enough comedy and tension to entertain audiences of all ages.
Fazakas and Blow take centre stage throughout with great performances, and the small-budget nature of this show does not fail to impress. Angela Milton‘s portrayal of Clarence is enjoyably comedic and touching. Clare McVay, who plays George Bailey’s wife, Mary Hatch, does well as his equally nervous and loving partner – helplessly witnessing her beloved’s downfall. There’s also Malcolm Jamieson, who delivers a charming portrayal of Uncle Billy Bailey. Finally, there’s Alexander Wiss and Samuel Thorne, who portray a mixed bag of characters quickly and seamlessly and provide a great deal of the comic entertainment.
For the cost of £12, with ten percent of all proceeds going to local homelessness charity Social Bite, Fazakas’ adaption of this Christmas classic is worth every penny – with the added bonus of a mince pie and mulled wine upon entry.
With the subtle twinkle of the Edinburgh Christmas Market in the windows at the back of the stage, this at times comedic – other times tragic – but overwhelmingly heartwarming tale can thaw your yule-tide worries and remind you of what is really important; “No one is a failure who has friends.”