A Christmas Carol
30 Nov – 31 Dec
“Imagine a time…” begins the narrator, setting the scene of a bustling city on Christmas Eve. On stage, Christmas Eve shoppers rush around, buying that last-minute trimming for the next day’s festivities, wishing each other a Merry Christmas and young children skip excitedly, bursting with anticipation of presents under trees. It could be the present day. But we know its not — we’ve come to see the well-beloved Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and hear again the story of one Ebenezer Scrooge and how his miserly ways are turned around by the three spectral visitations from the past, present and future. It’s as familiar a recipe as Christmas pudding, right?
Dundee Rep’s production, skilfully adapted for stage by Neil Duffield, takes a fresh pull at this Christmas cracker. And what a treat there is inside! It’s Ebenezer, the zero-hours boss, the protean anti-society capitalist, the nemesis of workers everywhere, as a woman! Not a gender-bending pantomime dame, but a real hard-nosed, iron-hearted woman. And Scrooge as a woman, so utterly black heartedly played by Anne Louise Ross, has slipped a nip of something enlivening into the familiar, and the result is a truly magical mix of fun and song – even some literal shocks – for young and old alike.
The opening night of Dundee Rep’s Christmas offering was a joyous event. The ensemble cast recreated the familiar tale with a loving respect for the original story, interweaving the action with superb medleys of Christmas carols throughout, and the audience, young and old alike, joyfully joined in with the singing.
The cast play well together, turning up both the humour and sentimentality of Dickens’ original story to just the right temperature. All the old favourite characters are lovingly recreated; Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley, Mr and Mrs Fezziwig and Tiny Tim, played by Oliver Mulholland and Harrison Hughes, pulled on the heart strings perfectly. Look out for the mischief made by the ghosts with Scrooge’s bedtime routine!
Settings and costumes were evocative and expressive and detailed, making the whole event a delight for the eyes as much as the heart. Scene changes happened with brandy-butter smoothness. The audience were magically transported with Scrooge and her ghostly guides to scenes from the past, to discover just how she came to be so mean, then whisked away to see happy Christmas revellers mix in the present and on to a dark foreboding future that, like a Christmas pudding, had a real flaming topping!
Take a young person to see this wonderful, faithful production, or just go see it yourself and believe in the power of Christmas – for a while at least!
Reviewer : Mark MacKenzie