A Christmas Carol - Review

 

Sarah Davies has taken an ensemble cast to build a swirl of fully-orchestrated and detailed scenes around John Tolputt’s excellent, very characterful Scrooge. It’s a memorable production, full of incidents one forgets and certainly never sees in any other adaptation -— especially one like this trying hard to suppress its secret title of Scrooge — the Musical.

It begins and ends with two contemporary destitute waifs starting the story, a neat underscoring (though with a book?).
The cast enacted anything fi'om choreographed dance to skat-and-descant—laden arrangements singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry’, and ‘Silent Night’ elegantly spliced with a Beethoven Piano Sonata and riffs to a superb score by Steve Hoar. They danced on as ghosts, proto-banshees foretelling Scrooge’s demise, clouds wafting Scrooge to the past, or sea—waves (a chorus offstage whooshing was the only moment this wonderful backwash didn’t quite chill).

Cast aren’t lined up to roles —— not even two/three plus ensemble, not an onerous task. As several execute fine turns this doesn’t do them justice. Robert Purchase is a spirited convincing nephew, Mark Green as a characterful older man, Jeremy Crow as Bob Cratchett, Christopher Dangerfield and above all Heather
Andrews as spirit of Christmas Past and a host of small roles shine out inhabiting their parts. Andrews in particular glints in every twist, vocal or otherwise - even mischievously proclaiming ‘I am a lighthouse’; at that point she is.

I’ve not seen it enacted before; it’s usually forgotten, as is the prostitutes scene, incidental to the plot. This is the fresh detail of Davies’ production. Like Dickens, unlike most adaptations understandably sticking to storyline, Davies makes a social point, embracing the message others over-simplify - even if Dickens does lay it

Jake Cargill as Younger Scrooge is another true to character. Amy Maynard and Lauren Kelly manage convincing pitches, not amateur-stage Victorian which did infuse some other contributions. The alacrity with which the cast — even young cast (Esther Marshall in particular sparked) move furniture off and on was miraculous. The chorus high up invisible or shouting
from the stage, and the vividness of word-pictures completes the most convincing adaptation of the perennial I’ve ever seen.

Simon Jenner