Oliver Twist aside, A Christmas Carol is probably Charles Dickens’ most beloved story, not least because it was immortalised by the muppets in the early 90s. It’s a dark tale with a happy ending that manages to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
In this production of Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol there are just six actors, Scrooge (Alexander McMorran) and an ensemble of five others. The ensemble play all of the other characters, switching roles and narrating the story, speaking in unison and over each other, using nothing more than Dickens’ words and some Christmas carols.
The actors wear coats, scarves and hats, occasionally adding or taking away items to depict different characters. There are hundreds of props and at the end of the play the stage is completely covered in polystyrene, tinsel and wrapping paper which are used to represent snow, money and food.
Cat Gerrard really embraces each of her characters, particularly Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family scenes as a whole are heartfelt and endearing. McCorran brings a fresh perspective to the role of Scrooge, beginning as harsh and embittered, but ending up as a grovelling old man who’s realised what his life has become. The audience can’t help but feel sorry for him as he huddles on the floor in nothing more than a white all in one, broken and ashamed.
Director Gus Miller has produced a fantastic show that is fast-paced, fun and well-executed. Plus the cast are obviously having a great time trashing the stage, singing Christmas songs and embracing the festive spirit – it’s just a shame that there were no muppets involved!
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
A Christmas Carol is playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 3 January 2015