A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, in a new adaptation by Jack ThorneStars:
The Old Vic (short walk from all Waterloo stations) until January 20th
Running Time 2 hours including one interval
Review: Veronica Stein. December 5th, 2017
Run (do not walk) to this new celebration of change, kindness, and of course, Christmas.
If there’s one thing the Old Vic’s new production of A Christmas Carol can guarantee, it is that you will leave with a smile on your face.
But make no mistake, many moments of Jack Thorne’s stellar adaptation are deeply moving. Some liberties are taken from the original Dickens, including a detailed Scrooge Sr. who fleshes out the source of Ebenezer’s disagreeable nature, but not a note seems out of place- including the literal notes in Christopher Hampton’s melodious score.
Rhys Ifans’s Scrooge is at points tragic and at others ebullient, but more importantly believable at both ends of the spectrum. Seeing young Ebenezer-a man with a plan and sure of his potential- played with such an authentic glimmer in his eye, only highlights the sorry state of his affairs as a lonely miser who has prioritized his pride and his means for far too long. In all moments of realization, regret, and redemption, Ifans is remarkable, though it would be remiss to isolate his performance from that of the ensemble who multirole and carol with grace. Their handbell playing is equally as exquisite.
In a bold move, the production is set in the round, with the playing space minimized except for a long aisle that cuts through the house. As Marley’s ghost makes his way up and down the wooden boards we sense that this may be the aisle of life that Ebenezer is reflecting on, with the help of his ghosts. The 360-degree nature of the proceedings magnifies the community aspect that Ebenezer refuses to partake in, and as the funeral procession of Christmas Future’s presentation isolates Scrooge, his loneliness is all the more poignant.
As Scrooge begins to change his ways, the theatre itself seems to radiate with Christmas cheer. The audience is involved, Ifans glows, and the stagecraft is nothing short of magical. Rarely does one experience such a true manifestation of collective joy.
This incredible experience will figuratively wrap you in a Christmas jumper. And there is perhaps little else currently on the theatrical circuit that will leave you feeling as warm toward your fellow man- and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Ebenezer Scrooge: Rhys Ifans
Little Fan: Melissa Allan
Young Ebenezer/George: Jamie Cameron
Bob Cratchit: John Dagleish
Belle: Erin Doherty
Ferdy: Oliver Evans
Nicholas: Tim can Eyken
Father/Marley: Alex Gaumond
Jess: Siena Kelly
Fred: Eugene McCoy
Ghost of Christmas Past: Myra McFadyen
Mrs. Cratchit: Maria Omakinwa
Fezziwig: Alastair Parker
Ghost of Christmas Present/Mrs. Fezziwig: Golda Rosheuvel
Another character: Actor 2 (etc)
Director: Matthew Warchus
Composer and Arranger: Christopher Nightingale
Set and Costume Designer: Rob Howell
Lighting: Hugh Vanstone
Sound: Simon Baker
Casting: Jessica Ronane CDG
Movement: Lizzi Gee
Musical Director: Will Stuart
Voice Coach: Charlie Hughes-D’Aeth
Associate Director: Jamie Manton
Associate Set Designer: Ben Davies
Associate Costume Designer: Irene Bohan
Associate Sound: Jay Jones