FROM tomorrow, the world’s worst Christmas party collides with Charles Dickens’ classic ghost story for a fortnight in an immersive theatrical event at The Basement, City Screen, York.

York company Procter Goblins, specialists in “shocking and thought-provoking experiences”, usually like their shows to be “trashy, crude and often politically incorrect”. In this case, they throw A Christmas Carol into the mire of a typically nightmare office party, dive in and see what comes to the surface.

As director Benji Rose puts it: “An office Christmas party takes an unexpected turn for the worse; there’s no food, no entertainment and – worst of all – no booze.

“Complete with bad karaoke, games, no budget and meaningless managerial slogans, the office workers revolt and ugly home truths come spilling out.

“However, when one of their colleagues picks up a copy of A Christmas Carol, everything changes. Mundane turns into magic as Dickens’ classic is brought to life in a truly unique way.”

Explaining the thinking behind Procter Goblins’ latest reinvention of A Christmas Carol, Benji says: “Many of us have experienced a work’s Christmas event or worked in an office environment. We all know these people; from the manager spouting cringe-worthy buzzwords, to the grumpy secretary that’s been there far too long.

“Our audiences will become immersed in their world as they join them in their journey through the most unusual gathering of their lives.”

Procter Goblins have served up such past shows as Grimm Up North, a dark tour around York with corrupted and adult versions of classic fairy tales; Scenes From A Teenage Killing, an immersive birthday party experience, and Night Of The Northern Dead, a ghost walk with some very naughty ghosts.

You can see a theme developing there, a mischievous, darkly humorous style of theatre that also saw Benji and co staging A Christmas Carol upstairs at The Black Swan Inn in Peasholme Green, as presented by a travelling troupe of actors steeped in Victoriana.

“Part of the appeal of Dickens’ story is that you can do it in different ways,” says Benji. “We took a break from it last winter after doing our Victorian version for two years, the first one done ‘straight’; the second one done with the acting troupe putting it on as a show,” says Benji.

“The spark for the new one was that I like reading about conceptually exciting theatre, and there’s a show in New York called Gatz, performed by Elevator Repair Service, who read The Great Gatsby, all of it, cover to cover, and the show is set in an office.

“The thing that struck me was the office structure because I wanted something that everyone could relate to; thinking about ‘what are the dynamics in each office?’.

“So the characters that open our production are based on office stereotypes, heavily influenced by The Office TV sitcom. I started to play about with how I could take an office party and turn it into A Christmas Carol.”

This time, says Benji, the “trashy, crude and often politically incorrect” element of the show is confined to the office-party characters, rather than Procter Goblins’ interpretation of Dickens’ ghost story.

“The basic premise is that it’s a Christmas party where everything’s gone wrong, and from there they start doing A Christmas Carol to save the day, really.

“The party gets tense, very tense, and in fact the first third of the show is nothing to do with A Christmas Carol. They’ve gathered to say farewell to their late colleague Jake, and it’s turning into probably the worst tribute ever to anybody!” reckons Benji.

“The key thing is that everyone knows these people; they may not have worked with all of them, but they know them, maybe in their family, maybe wider afield.

“Once the office staff start doing A Christmas Carol, the more they get into it, and one thing I’ve tried to work on is find parallels between the office workers and similar characters in Dickens’ story.

“That was important because the link between the party and the story’s characters had to make sense – and I genuinely believe we’ve created a version of A Christmas Carol as it’s never been done before.”

Benji promises live music, games, gossip and office politics when company regular Lee Gemmell, playing Scrooge once more, is joined by Procter Goblin newcomers Antony Branco, Carl Bowstead, Gemma Louise Keane, Ellie Stephenson and Josh Makuch.

“The thing we really want to do is find the magic in the mundanity of everyday life, so everything we use in the play is something you’d find at an office party, as we want to give it an air of authenticity,” concludes Benji.

Procter Goblins present Christmas Carol: Office Party on December 6, 9. 11 to 13, 16 and 17 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10 at or on 0871 902 5747 or £11 on the door.