A CHRISTMAS CAROL (play)
Ends 19th January 2019.
Audio Described performance: 8th January 2019 at 7.30pm
Captioned performance: 10th January 2019 at 7.30pm
Open Performance (designed for people that have an Autism Spectrum
Condition, anxiety disorder, learning disability or if would benefit from a
more informal environment): 12th January 2019 at 2.30pm
SUITABLE FOR THOSE AGED 11 AND OLDER.
Mean man taught a lesson by four (no, it never was three) ghosts.
A new adaptation by Jack Thorne, with Matthew Warchus directing a revival of
this Christmas 2017 hit, back by popular demand.
A reader warns that, if bringing children who require booster seats, to
arrive early. Apparently, there are not nearly enough to go around. If you
wish to buy one in advance, see
(Seen at the preview performance on 4th December 2018).
The monkey rarely has time to see any production twice. This exception,
though, is worth it.
Warchus has resolved all the issues of timing in the first few minutes, with
the actors now chatting amiably with the audience (orchestrating a "Mexican
Wave" through the dress circle), passing out treats and gathering together to
dance before the show starts in earnest.
The opening scenes now make sense and flow with the same rhythm as the rest.
Stephen Tompkinson is a less manic, more isolated and deeper Scrooge than last
year, his transition more believable for it. Frances McNamee (Belle) is more
adult, less challenging but more in control of all. Michael Rouse as Scrooge's
Father cuts a plaintive figure, engendering more sympathy than deserved, perhaps
- all to the good.
Returnees Alistair Parker (Fezziwig) and Myra McFadyen (Ghost of Christmas
Past) show the others how it is done, a real pleasure to see them again. Oh, and
Lara Mehmet (Tiny Tim) steals the entire show...
This now goes up to the full 5 stars from the monkey, who observed two bratty
tweenagers, moaning pre-show about everything. Wide-eyed, open-mouthed and
giggling with delight just 2 hours later. The pure magic of great theatre. Don't
miss it - and remember on the way out to stop by the manager's office and demand
it is revived for 2019/20, you'll thank yourself next year that you did.
(From the previous run. Seen at the afternoon performance on 2nd December 2017). Some actors have
now left the cast.
It isn't every day that a ghost greets you with a Waitrose Mince Pie and a
Satsuma as you are shown to your seat (and admits to having few takers), but it
all adds to the atmosphere of this mostly engaging new version by Jack Thorne.
Things get off to a slightly muddy start, with Matthew Warchus trying to set
things too hurriedly - confusing the audience as to whether it's a musical or
where it is going. "Once" it is not - nowhere near as smooth or original, and
"Cats" it isn't either - Trevor Nunn needs to work with the company on
synchronised speaking for sure.
Once we hit Scrooge's school days, however, the show bursts into life, and it's
a downhill run for a talented team who come complete with rather good
Rhys Ifans makes a wonderfully isolated Scrooge. His pain at his relationship
with a terrific Erin Doherty (Belle) is beautifully portrayed, as are those with
beloved sister Little Fan (Melissa Allan) and nephew Nicholas (Tim van Eyken).
The core emotions drive the plot perfectly, and Alex Gaumond as both Scrooge's
Father and Marley's Ghost are the perfect emotional counterpoint.
There's lovely work, too, from John Dalgeish as loyal Bob Cratchitt, a quiet
dignity an example particularly in the funeral scenes. A note too for Alastair
Parker as a jovial and true Fezziwig, bringing a huge range of emotions with
much success throughout.
Thorne's script has some decent jokes, some genuine chills and plenty of scope
that the cast exploit to the full. Well chosen carols - and some beautiful
arrangements (a nod to Sam Goble for actual performance teaching), plus a simple
but inventive set from Rob Howell finish off a rather lovely seasonal treat.
Probably one that the Old Vic may revive again (it was right - editor, 2018),
but don't take the chance and see it this time around, feels the monkey. It
doesn't think you will be sorry!