A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by Neil Bartlett based on the novel by Charles Dickens
The Old Red Lion Theatre
218 John Street, London EC1V 4NJ to 3 January 2015.
Tues – Sat 9.30 pm Mat Sat & Sun 4pm.
Runs 80 mins. No interval
TICKETS: 0844 412 4307
Review: William Russell 13 December
Christmas comes – and so does Scrooge!
This is a truly festive affair. There is something slightly inevitable about productions of Dickens’ novel at this time of year. Does one really wish to sit through one yet again? Bah Humbug! – as Scrooge says. But Bartlett’s version is fresh, amusing and makes all the points about goodwill to men, learning life is for living and that money is for enjoying, not hoarding made in the novel.
It also gets a terrific staging from director Gus Miller. We find Scrooge, impressively done by Alexander McMorran, a younger miser than usual, which adds an extra something, standing on top of his safe counting his money, actually silver chains he is clinking together. Around him is what looks like a world of the homeless, this that and everything is strewn about and there are two young men and three young women well wrapped up against the cold who welcome the audience, wish us a Merry Christmas, sing carols and play all the characters.
It works a treat. As to who plays which character, I have no idea as the programme gives no clue, but as this is an ensemble affair it hardly matters. They are all very good, with whoever plays Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchett, Mrs Cratchett and nephew Fred making strong contributions to the goings on.
There is some ingenious business using that junk lying around– a parrot gets fashioned out of an orange Sainsbury’s plastic bag! – and the Spirits come and go out of the gloom just as they should. In the end McMorran, by now reduced to wearing a white onesie instead of the traditional nightshirt, learns his lesson and it all ends with yet another Christmas carol sung by the cast and handshakes all round. Memories of the last time I saw the tale on stage – the musical version starring Tommy Steel, whose teeth flashed whiter than white and who insisted on being loveable throughout as the miser, – were obliterated. A Happy Christmas to One and All.
Scrooge: Alexander McMorran
Ensemble: Cat Gerrard, Elizabeth Grace-Williams, James Mack, Liam Mansfield, Rhiannon Neads
Director: Gus Miller
Designer: Max Johns
Lighting Designer: Matt Leventhall
Assistant Director: Andy Routledge
Musical Director: Greg Link