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Review Round-Ups

Did A Christmas Carol cheer the critics?

Phelim McDermott's production opened at the Noel Coward Theatre last night

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Jim Broadbent and Adeel Akhtar in A Christmas Carol
© Johan Persson

Jane Kemp, WhatsOnStage


"The incomparable Jim Broadbent is a splendid Scrooge – canny, shifty and self-serving, who yet manages to preserve enough hints of vulnerability to keep us firmly on-side throughout."

"Amelia Bullmore gets one of the best laughs of the show with her teetering Constance, while Samantha Spiro channels her inner Barbara Windsor for a magnificently rumbustious Ghost of Christmas Present."

"This beautifully conceived tale of redemption and goodwill retains all its ghostly power to thrill, and with Broadbent at the helm, it's glorious family entertainment for Christmas."

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian


"Has there ever been a Scrooge quite as genial and cuddly as the one offered by Jim Broadbent?"

"Tom Pye's design is dominated by a pop-up Victorian theatre. Visitors to Scrooge's office are covered in fake snow; the skyline of London is wheeled across the stage; the revolve is used to reveal rather than disguise the backstage mechanisms to terrific effect."

"There are moments when, with its photographs of the 19th-century poor and disenfranchised gathered on Kennington Common, and its puppet-head bankers and politicians, the show is quite clearly making connections between Dickens' story and our own times."

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


"He [Broadbent] has a naturally endearing physiognomy and a quality of gentle avuncularity... Yet the innovative handling of the story and approach to the character here allows for the glaring discrepancy between our customary image of Scrooge and the smart, almost, genial gent before us."

"The evening is cut from the same frenetically rustled-up cloth as The 39 Steps. There's a mischievous twinkle about everything the company of just five – supplemented by two puppeteers – get up to."

"The spirit is one of send-up; and Scrooge is, perhaps for the first time ever, having a laugh – albeit at the expense of the poor."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard


"There's understated work from Adeel Akhtar as Scrooge's amiable, maltreated clerk Bob Cratchit, and Keir Charles exudes a buzzy, almost manic energy as the foppish Mr Fezziwig, whose generosity is infectious."

"Phelim McDermott's production is full of invention, with neat puppetry and plenty of cheeky, lo-fi vibrancy. But at times it feels clumsy — a scene involving ice skating is especially weak."

"The result is a show that's a mixture of the inspired and the ponderous. Not a case of "Bah, humbug!" - but not exactly a Christmas cracker."

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out


"Director Phelim McDermott's production ditches the chintz in favour of a gently anarchic Brechtian romp, that dials down the sentiment in favour of larky irony and jocular breaking of the fourth wall, while simultaneously bulking out Scrooge's back story in a way that humanises him more than Dickens ever did."

"You know the story and you know that redemption comes – but rarely does it arrive with such tongue-in-cheek panache."

"This isn't so radical a spin on Dickens that anybody will walk out in outrage: it's just really, really fun, while the return of the charismatic, hilarious Broadbent is as good a Christmas present as Theatreland could hope for."

A Christmas Carol runs at the Noel Coward theatre until 30 January.