Humorous, lively and warm-hearted, this adaptation, by Bryony Lavery, ranks highly amongst the numerous film and stage versions of Charles Dickens’ classic Victorian tale. While not suitable for very young children, for everyone else A Christmas Carol delivers a spirited evening’s entertainment.
The story concerns miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge, who shuns the rest of the world as he sits alone counting his money, sending away charity collectors empty-handed and meeting any festive salutations with a dismissive “bah, humbug”. After a ghostly visit from his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, warning him of the error of his ways, Scrooge receives three more apparitions, who proceed to show him Christmas in his past, present and future.
Filled with catchy tunes, courtesy of Jason Carr, and vivacious dance routines, choreographed by Nick Winston, A Christmas Carol entertains throughout its brief two-hour running time (including a 20-minute interval).
The cast, most of whom take on multiple roles, are uniformly excellent, with Philip Whitchurch, in particular, delivering a memorable Scrooge. The production also benefits hugely from Colin Richmond’s versatile set and Guy Hoare’s lighting design, both of which manage to evoke a suitably eerie, Victorian atmosphere throughout.
Probably A Christmas Carol’s greatest success, however, is that it manages to avoid becoming bogged down in sentimentality. Instead, the toe-tapping ending leaves the audience feeling a little better about the world than when they sat down, and that’s really all anyone can ask of a show like this.