David Hutchinson and Anna Schneider have done a wonderful job, not only in adapting the text for a 21st century setting, with innovative and inventive dialogue which retains the atmosphere, humour and horror of the original, but in creating a highly original and inventive interpretation that actively enhances the story and emotionally engages the audience.
This is a superb ensemble piece, where this talented team of 11 members not only cover all the parts between them but provide musical accompaniment as street entertainers and carol singers to link the scenes in a seamless flow.
Stephen Barden’s Scrooge is suitably severe yet with that subtle suppressed wit which is allowed to appear through the cracks at times, Lee White is a marvelously morose Marley and a heart warming Bob Cratchett.
Tara Godolphin’s Ghost of Christmas Present is a delight, as a vamp-style party girl with some great one liners, whilst Jess Mack’s poignant and playful spirit of Christmas Past reminds one in a way of Tinkerbell, and Chris Rowland has great charisma and charm as Fred and Fezziwig.
Technically this show proves that less is more. By using only a painted black wall and a pair of dark crimson curtains they are able to provide all the backdrops needed by chalking up designs. From an initial inscribed headstone lines and towers are added to create London with Big Ben and the Dome, then this is wiped to reveal Scrooge’s door where the knocker is drawn and redrawn by seemingly invisible hands.
For the entrance of the Ghost of Christmas Present, after the interval, we find that the black drapes are tied in a bow in front of the curtains and a voice from beyond goads him to undo it.
The credit for the success of this production must also go to Philip Ryder, who as musical director provides an atmospheric score as well as directing the teams of singers and providing the accompaniment for the superbly arranged carols. Visually visceral with 'shoal of fish' choreography by Maddy Mutch this is a perfectly pitched production.
- Dave Jordan