The Old Vic brings the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol to life this season. Seating surrounds the staged area in the stalls with a long walkway through the main auditorium, with entrances opened up around the theatre this allows for the stage

Director Matthew Warchus creates an excellent twist to the classic tale. Every space in the Theatre is used throughout the performance from the strategically placed seating, to the solo performances in the balconies to Marley's entrance dragging vast lengths of chains behind him. Warchus brings the audience a Christmas Theatre experience rather than a play, on many occasions the cast breaks the fourth wall.

Christopher Eccleston gives an outstanding performance as Ebenezer Scrooge the boss of his overworked employee Bob Cratchit (Rob Compton) who is desperate to spend time with his family. From the brash conversations with the Carol singers to the dismissive conversation with his brother-in-law. He is every bit the character created by Dickens.


However, the bad-tempered miserly character whose obsession with money has plenty of “bah-humbug” to offer and no seasonal “goodwill to men”. We watch as Scrooge takes his various money boxes and strategically places them into the stage hidden away from sight and the thieves who might attempt to rob him. Protecting his wealth is all that matters to Scrooge.

Belle (Frances McNamee) the daughter of Scrooge's first employer Fezziwig (Alastair Parker) offers Scrooge a chance at happiness which he neglects in the pursuit of trying to create a perfect life he believes that she should have while doing so gets caught up with greed and unobtainable perfection.. Ending up with nothing but loneliness and self-loathing.

The cast adds a touch of festive charm to the performance with a range of tunes played out on various-sized bells. While the accompanying orchestra performs from one of the boxes on the right-hand side of the stage. 

Throughout the performance, the action is taking place all around you. The four Victorian heavy doors that create the barrier between Scrooge and the outside world are empty frames. Until the incredible sound effects plunge the audience into suspending their disbelief and visualising heavy wooden doors standing on the stage as Scrooge pulls across the imaginary heavy-duty locks.

For the true meaning of Christmas, this tale is as relevant today as it was during Dickens' day. Spend your time treating others as you wish to be treated. Christmas is the time to reflect and help those around you to feel valued and accepted, even the Scrooge's of this world.


It runs until 6 January. Tickets: here.


Review: Elaine Chapman            Photos: Manuel Harlan