Tech reviews

A Christmas Carol review – a real Dickens cracker | Stage

Charles Dickens’s 1843 story of the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from crabbit miser to genial philanthropist via a series of Christmas Eve encounters with ghosts of past, present and future is a firm favourite at this time of year. The Citizens’ period production of Neil Bartlett’s adaptation, with its exhilaratingly imaginative ensemble – animating puppet spirits; incorporating the audience into the Fezziwigs’s festive celebration – shows us why.

Rachael Canning’s design leaves the thrust stage almost bare. Against the set-back wall, an outline of a London skyline; in front of this a pair of curtains and, to either side, a couple of pianos flanked by other instruments. A cheerfully bustling introduction sees actor-musicians encourage the audience into a singalong (with actions). Then, as the pinched, cheerless figure of Scrooge makes his way on to the stage, a chill creeps through the space. The very air seems to darken where he goes (Lizzie Powell’s lighting); bright music crashes into discord as he passes (Nikola Kodjabashia’s compositions and sound design).

Benny Young’s Scrooge, though, is not the monster miser of caricature but the husk of a man, one who crackles to icy cold the generous attempts at human contact proffered by his shivering clerk (Andy Clark) and his resolutely friendly nephew (Reuben Joseph). Scrooge’s thoughts and feelings centre on his money – the clink of his coins echoes through the auditorium as he counts them.

Director Dominic Hill and his uniformly excellent company brilliantly contrast warm conviviality and cold self-centredness, through intertwining sound, music, movement and impeccable acting. They communicate Scrooge’s experiences so sensually that we feel with him the truth of the lesson that happiness lies not in things but in shared experience, and rejoice in his return to love and life.

A Christmas Carol is at Tramway, Glasgow, until 6 January

Watch a trailer for A Christmas Carol


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.