It's A Wonderful Life

Unmasked Theatre are filling the week before Christmas with a stage adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life, the 1946 festive favourite. The classic comedy-drama tells the story of George Bailey, a kind-hearted dreamer who finds himself wondering if life would be better without him in it. With all of his life’s ambitions cast aside to keep his father’s Building and Loans company afloat, and bankruptcy threatening to swallow up the town he dreamed of leaving, we see the events leading up to George contemplating suicide on a bridge on Christmas Eve. This is also when George’s guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, steps in to help him see sense and show him a darker world in which none of his good deeds took place.

It’s an ambitious undertaking, fitting an entire town’s worth of characters onto the pint-sized Rialto stage

With some reshuffling of events, Unmasked Theatre brought a near-replica of the film to the stage. It’s an ambitious undertaking, fitting an entire town’s worth of characters onto the pint-sized Rialto stage. However, the most was made of the space, with scenes spilling into the audience to a nice, immersive effect, and hearing the chatter of the ensemble cast made some scenes really come alive. The production got off to a slightly disjointed beginning, and overall, it could have benefitted from some trimming or streamlining in places. However, the performances were strong throughout from the cast of 13, who were skilfully tackling a huge number of characters between them.

Liam Murray Scott put in a very strong performance as George Bailey, shining particularly in his impassioned speeches to the town. Also worthy of note was Elizabeth McNally, who played an extremely cool, cunning Mrs. Potter; her superiority and lack of empathy for the town’s residents was chilling. In contrast, Tyrone Purling brought a charming eccentricity to his portrayal of Clarence Oddbody, the guardian angel intent on helping George and earning his wings in the process. Although he had scenes dotted throughout the narrative, by the end of the performance you were left wishing you’d seen more of him through the show, as his interactions with Bailey were as sweet as they were comedic.

An interesting addition to the show was the insertion of live song, beautifully arranged by Katie Bond, Toby Starbuck and Pip O’Neill. The snippets of music added period colour to the production and stitched scenes together; an unexpected and very enjoyable element to the show.

It’s a Wonderful Life was an ambitious production of a complex film that was perhaps held back a little by the space. With a full house, it was a heart-warming production from the always creative and engaging Unmasked Theatre, and a fun way to spend a cold evening conjuring up some festive spirit.

Reviews by Lois Zoppi

Sweet Werks 2

Good Grief

★★★
Sweet Werks 1

The Hunters of Ghost Hall

★★★
Middle Street Synagogue

Middle Street Synagogue Open Days

★★★
MEET: Outside Old Ship Hotel

The Subversive Sussex Walk

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Small-town clerk and resident good man, George Bailey has reached the end of his tether. He’s bankrupt and bitter, wondering what happened to all his big dreams. With seemingly nowhere left to turn, he contemplates ending it all, believing the world would have been better off if he had never lived.

Enter a divine miracle in the unusual shape of angel second class, Clarence Oddbody who is determined to show George that it really is a wonderful life after all…

Based on the Philip Van Doren Stern short story and the Frank Capra classic film, Unmasked Theatre are proud to present It’s A Wonderful Life, one of the most heart-warming Christmas tales ever. 

Most Popular See More

Wicked

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Only Fools and Horses - The Musical

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets