A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by Charles Dickens book & lyrics Ben Horslen & John Risebero music by Christopher Peake.
Middle Temple Hall Middle Temple Lane EC4Y 9AJ To 30 December 2014.
23-24; 27-30 Dec 3pm & 7.30pm.
no 7.30pm performance 24 Dec.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 22 December.
Scrooge comes to Middle Temple and triumphs.
At the heart of this charming Antic Disposition production of Dickens’ much loved tale is a fine barnstorming performance by David Burt as Scrooge, England’s greatest miser. He carries the show with great aplomb.
But he is not alone. There is a first-rate cast providing impeccable support. Middle Temple Hall, well known to Dickens, who became a student there in 1839, proves a splendid setting for his much loved Christmas fable.
The acoustics are a perhaps a little dicey, but the odd muffled line is more because occasionally an actor delivers it in one direction, not grasping the need in such an “audience on three sides” staging to move while speaking so that the words spray out.
Having an interval is also rather a pity, even if it allows time for mulled wine and mince pies, because it destroys the tension of the tale slightly. An hour and 45 minutes is not too long to sit still and it would have been better played straight through. I suspect Dickens, when telling the story, told it from start to finish as a good story should be told.
There are lots of well-loved carols, some pleasing additional music, neatly adapted lyrics, and very handsome costumes, but the result is a bit like a traditional Christmas card – there are no surprises, everything one sees is what one expects to see. Predictable then, but undeniably very well done.
The Red Lion’s Neil Bartlett version which I reviewed some ten days ago had what this one lacks – the element of surprise. Directors Ben Horslen and John Riseboro have, however, ensured the tale is told with style and there is the splendid Burt, lank of hair, mottled of complexion, and somewhat hoarse of voice, delivering a Scrooge to relish.
Ebenezer Scrooge: David Burt.
Fred, his nephew: Elliot Fitzpatrick.
Bob Cratchit: Paul Tonkin.
Mrs Cratchit: Charlotte Armer.
Peter Cratchit: Dean Riley.
Tiny Tim: Ethan Fairclough/Daniel McCarthy/Theo Williams.
Belle, Scrooge’s betrothed: Emma Whittaker.
The ghost of Jacob Marley: Chris Courtenay.
The Ghost of Christmas Past: Katie Lovell.
The Ghost of Christmas Present: David Anthony.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: ?
Other characters played by members of the company
Directors: Ben Horslen, John Riseboro.
Designer: John Riseboro.
Lighting: Tom Boucher.
Sound: Theo Holloway.
Musical Supervisor: Christopher Peake.
Choreographer: Edward Lewis French.
Associate costume: Sophie Howard.