by Sarah Richardson.

New Victoria Theatre Etruria Road ST5 0JG To 22 December 2012.
11.15am 15, 17, 20-22 Dec.
1pm 14, 15, 17, 19-22 Dec.
3pm 15, 22 Dec.
Runs 50min No interval.

TICKETS: 01782 717962.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 8 December.

Delightful and gentle introduction to Dickens’ famous story.
It’s coming close to possible that Staffordshire theatregoers could bring the whole family along around Christmas-time. While many pre-Christmas performances of A Christmas Carol run in the main auditorium, a posse of parents and, particularly, grandparents, can accompany 3-5s round the New Vic’s Stephen Joseph studio, transformed into an environment whose multiple locations may seem crowded close to adults but form a journey of expectation for the intended audience.

As an introduction to theatre it could hardly be gentler. One moment a young child is with their family, meeting others, exploring a room, looking at books; the next a front-of-house staff-member is welcoming them and introducing a newcomer, who starts the story. No loud sounds, strong lights or blackouts. No loss of contact with the familiar world.

As with previous Tale Trails, linked to each New Vic main Christmas show, two actors cover multiple characters by one becoming a friendly guide through the event – here, Jill Rezzano as a pleasant Spirit of Christmas, wrapped in bright colours, leading from a modern-seeming room to Ebenezer Scrooge’s counting-house, a shop where Bob Cratchit seeks an affordable present for his wife and the Cratchit living-room.

Meanwhile Adam Urey, the cheerful man first seen fussing over his Christmas preparations, shifts between scenes and costumes, chatting as he prepares his home, hunched in dark clothing as he sits counting coins as Scrooge, cheerfully anxious as Bob Cratchit.

Dickens’ darker elements are lightly implied. In this ‘Tale Trail’ it’s the story, not themes that matter. And, as a trail leading towards a more complex story, names, moments, patterns are laid-out, ready to click into place in the future and form part of a new discovery.

This year both performers interact with young audience members, few enough in numbers to answer questions (ideas from the audience are rightly treated with respect), play a Victorian parlour-game and help decorate a room or put presents in the empty stockings of the Cratchit children. There could hardly be a more fitting action than that to sum-up the point of Dickens’ tale, and it fits naturally within this well-devised piece.

Spirit of Christmas: Jill Rezzano.
Dad/Fred/Scrooge/Bob Cratchit: Adam Urey.
Front of House: Lynn Parry.

Director: Sarah Richardson.
Designer: Laura Clarkson.
Lighting: Daniella Beattie.
Sound: James Earls=Davis.
Composer/Musical Director: James Atherton.
Costume: Lis Evans.

2012-12-12 15:30:02

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