There’s nothing like getting into the Christmas spirit with a bit of pomp and circumstance, and Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is becoming a bit of a tradition. Thorne updates the moral tale to discover the warmth in Dickens’ winter misery.
Headlined by Owen Teale as Ebenezer Scrooge, the strong cast of 16 actors perform a wonderful rendition with cheer, magic, and laughter. Teale drives the epic tale with precision, resonating with everyone big and small as they navigate the unfortunate tendencies that make us all human. Teale’s powerful relationship with Sebastian Torkia’s Marley lays the foundation for a vocally exquisite performance.
Matthew Warchus’ direction brings the focus to positivity and generosity. Simple tools such as a narrative ensemble, telling the story through unison and gorgeous harmonies give a clear and concise message of the flaws of pride and greed. Christopher Nightingale’s composition and arrangements accompany this message with greatly cathartic carols and underscoring, accentuating the power of the performances.
A highlight performance comes from Alastair Parker, whose Fezziwig captivates us with their happy-go-lucky enjoyment of life and all it entails. Parker captures Fezziwig’s disappointment with Scrooge’s plans not to make a partner at the funeral firm with the energy of a puppy losing its favorite toy. Parker’s physical embodiment is equally an impressive feat as they transform from the neutral ensemble narrator to the upbeat establishment owner.
The ghosts-a-plenty come in the form of Julie Jupp (past), Jenny Fitzpatrick (present) and Melissa Allan (future), each dressed in an antiquated fashion, designed by Rob Howell. The eerie transcendence is expressed by all, frightening Scrooge into finding his morality. Scrooge’s young sweetheart Belle, played by Lydia White, finds a compassionate and playful love interest creating even greater disappointment when Scrooge comes to term with what he has sacrificed.
Altogether the piece is an impressive reminder of the generosity within us all that so quickly seems to evaporate come spring. This year’s run is dedicated to supporting the food distribution charity ‘City Harvest’ with collection points made available after the show.
It runs until 7 January.
Review: Sebastian Calver