This two-handed version of A Christmas Carol is vividly brought to life.
Extremely faithful to the original book, Dickens Theatre Company’s production of A Christmas Carol is a brisk but still heartwarming interpretation that uses a lot of creativity to allow two performers to play the variety of characters.
This version of the story has been adapted by Ryan Philpott and has a really nice set up to it in which the only two people behind the scenes at the theatre are a stage manager and one of the cast – while the other cast members have been delayed thanks to late running trains. The audience is already in so the pair have to take on the roles themselves. It is a nice nod to the ability of theatre having to adapt to a number of situations.
The script is extremely vivid and filled with delightful descriptions that help set the scene perfectly given the simplicity of the set which is surrounded by props and costumes that the cast use effectively throughout.
But Eric Richard’s production manages to retain the eery and haunting atmosphere successfully – particularly during Jacob Marley’s appearance that sends suitable chills down the spine or when Scrooge realises whose death everyone seems to be celebrating. Much of the emphasis is put on the use of lighting and performances to really engage the audience’s attention and to ensure that the story is told simple but elegant way.
Everything about the production is smooth and seamless – particularly when it comes to the changing of scenes, particularly noticeable during the scenes with the spirits – reliant on subtle changes in lighting and casual changing costumes depending on who the cast are playing.
Louise Faulkner and Ryan Philpott both adapt to each character with ease and style. Faulkner as Scrooge is suitably brusque and ensuring that the character’s change is subtle and takes time, while ensuring the other characters she plays are equally distinct. It is a carefully thought out performance that works well. Philpott is impressive as a number of characters – positively chilling as the ominous Jacob Marley and delightfully warm as Bob Cratchit for example. The way in which he is able to change character is effortless and utterly convincing.
For those looking for a proper introduction to A Christmas Carol, this production feels very authentic and close to the original story. Really worth a watch.
By Emma Clarendon