The setting of this promenade production of one man ‘A Christmas Carol’ could not be more ideal. Wardown House, Museum and Gallery is a Grade II listed building situated in the beautiful grounds of Wardown Park, Luton. Formerly a family residence, then a World War I military hospital, this house transports you back in time, to a Victorian family home. Every room is artfully decorated and filled with a treasure trove of local curiosities.
We were welcomed into the house with a hot cup of tea and a mince pie (included in the ticket price) before being led into a beautiful galleried room to await the arrival of Charles Dickens, our storyteller for the evening. As the evening progressed we were led from room to room; the study for Scrooge’s Moneylender’s, a bedroom for Scrooges own chambers and great wood panelled corridors and staircases for the streets and meeting places of Victorian England. It’s almost as if this house was created in order to be the perfect backdrop for this, the most beloved of Christmas stories.
Stuart Turner gave a tour de force performance as the eponymous storyteller Dickens, not only did he lead us through the house and the book with great energy and passion, but he created each character with real vocal and physical skill, seamlessly and artfully blending from one into another. It was the periods of eerie and trepidatious silence that I found most thrilling, with Turner able to hold the audience in the palm of his hand with the unspoken promise of what was yet to come.
Writer Teresa Burns adapted and directed the piece and has created an utter gem of a performance. Displaying both a clear understanding of text and of theatricality. Burns has magically woven this glorious tale into the very fabric of the building.
I know that there are a lot of ‘A Christmas Carols’ vying for your pennies this festive period, but if you do happen to be in Luton and can get a ticket, then I highly recommend that you let this Dickens enchant you.
Reviewed by Byron Butler
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