14 December 2010 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews In the flood of productions of A Christmas Carol the version at Harrogate Theatre’s Studio has a unique selling point, as expressed in the sub-title, “As told by Jacob Marley (Deceased)”. In this one-man show with only a chair as furniture or prop actor/writer/director James Hyland bursts through the stage drapes dramatically festooned in chains, red-eyed and chalky-faced, and proceeds to tell the story.
Hyland claims that his version of the story highlights Dickens’ themes by comparing “Marley’s temporary liberation from his chains” with “Scrooge’s full reclamation of spirit”, but no such comparison takes place. Marley rather melodramatically and with difficulty rids himself of the chains – a necessary act given the energetic story-telling to come – and, at the end, after finishing in Dickens’ own words, he resumes the chains, asks us to remember him and wishes us a Merry Christmas – not really a comparison! In fact, beyond the occasional 1st person pronoun, the narration is never really told from Marley’s perspective.
However, it is a very workmanlike reduction of
A Christmas Carol and Marley’s grotesque appearance heightens the drama while, oddly, not inhibiting Hyland’s interpretation of such sunny characters as Scrooge’s nephew. And, as an actor, some touches of Grand Guignol aside, James Hyland impresses, switching characters physically and vocally with great skill: the Ghost of Christmas Present echoing the mighty Brian Blessed, the voice lightening for Bob Cratchit and sliding into the East End for the traders on the Exchange, only Mrs Cratchit a touch insipid.
- Ron Simpson
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