This local theatre company’s A Christmas Carol can actually get you in the mood for what has become the season of tat and wanton spending. Yes, it is a faithful rendition of Dickens’ classic study in miserliness but despite the consumption (or should I say consumptive?) differences between then and now, the Victorian Christmas message still appeals a hundred and seventy odd years after it first appeared in print. Actually, with the appearance of city wide boys and mobile phones it makes a pertinent comment about the socio-economic similarities of Dickens’ world and modern Britain.
The set and scenography is excellent; all cobwebs and tatters. We thought the appearance of the first ghost as a face and hands appearing the window was a particularly effective theatrical device. The songs are interwoven with a good script and modern pop and traditional carols. They managed to keep a sense of place and time though, even with a bit of cockney-mockney reminiscent of the 80s band Madness. Suggs aside, the cast were all good – particularly Cratchit, this time a female character (played by Annabelle Terry) who interestingly seemed to be based on the character of Bubble from Ab Fab. The child actors were also a credit to the performance, and were presumably drafted in from Creation’s youth arm. They were all a picture of Dickensian childhood - innocence and vulnerability colliding with malign social forces.
For those who have seen this theatre company’s other work (Wind in the Willows circa 2015) this is much better. The formula is similar, though, classics adapted with gags and references to contemporary trends and kid fads (fidget spinners and Pokemon go!) and certainly appeals to the intergenerational audience. While in Willows this was cringe-worthy for the parents and lost on the kids, in A Christmas Carol, Creation seem to have become more nuanced in their attempts to update and cross-over concerns. Finally, the gags are funny for the kids and the parents could gloss over and appreciate the rest of the show. Well done them!
P.S. I thought I should mention, for the Victorian Christmas zeitgeist, their website has a useful page of Victorian Christmas parlour games. I am already looking forward to hours of ‘Are you there, Moriarty?’ and Blindman’s buff!