Pegasus Theatre has served up a Christmas feast with many timely messages and much to enjoy.
It's dark, compelling production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol transforms a familiar seasonal tale into a gripping drama. It keeps you on the edge of your seat – and that included every child in the matinee audience.
Director Jonathan Lloyd has powerfully offset Victorian sentimentality with a chilling current of menace. Scrooge (excellent Richard Kidd) is a black clad bruiser – more Bill Sykes than lithe Fagin. Marley's Ghost (crisp Ben Callon) is festooned in clanking, retributive chains, and Edith England's petite hooded Ghost of Christmas Future is a pint-sized horror with a long shadow – 'Don't Look Now' without the red palate. They appear in the bleak darkness of designer Liz Cooke's empty unloved rooms and anonymous London streets.
Offsetting the sombre and the selfish is the whizz bang musicality of a colourful clutch of characters: Anna Wheatley's open hearted Fred – Scrooge's indomitably optimistic nephew – is a life force of goodness; Phoebe Brown's delightful munificent Ghost of Christmas Past and sweetly gracious Miss Fezziwig shone brightly, but Callon's Bob Cratchit was immensely affecting: a loving father, a conscientious employee, and a grieving, bereft family man.
Chahine Yavroyan's lighting and Osnat Schmool's musical compositions reflected and enhanced the rapid ebb and flow of emotions, as Robin Colyer's Movement Direction skilfully threaded each scene together. Lloyd's imaginative touches included puppetry and mime interspersed with slapstick, audience participation and moments of intense drama and emotion.
This was a production which brought tears to my eyes, and challenged me, again and again to think about the real spirit of Christmas: 'For the memory of one kind word I'd be kind to him', one character says of Scrooge. Can we say the same of our own, sometimes unlovely relatives, colleagues, friends and neighbours at Christmas?