By David Fox
A Christmas Carol at The RSC
A new adaptation by David Edgar. Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.
“You will be haunted by three spirits!”
The most famous Christmas story of all time, A Christmas Carol, returns to the RSC’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre for a second triumphant year. Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve to offer him the chance of redemption, change his parsimonious ways, and become a better person. The RSC wonderfully presents this story herein a fantastic new production that will leave you enchanted, entertained, and full of Christmas spirit!
With such a familiar story the real joy is in the telling, and in seeing how they portray the story and characters on stage. Tight fisted Scrooge is played by Aden Gillet (who I last saw at Birmingham Rep in The Winslow Boy). Gillet brings a wonderful energy to this role – beginning suitable hard-nosed and miserable at the start to becoming joyful at his eventual redemption. The whole cast were excellent, with particular highlights being performances from Gerard Carey as Bob Cratchit, and Danielle Henry as the Ghost of Christmas Present. An interesting technique was to use Charles Dickens himself as a character, played by Joseph Timms, acting as a narrator to the tale to highlight its background, message, and some of the details of Dickens’ own life.
As you would expect from the RSC the sets and costumes are excellent and lavish – evoking the cobbled streets of Victorian London, the slums of the
Cratchit household, and the splendour of Fezziwig’s ball. The projected backdrops gave a great sense of scale to the production,particularly as Scrooge flew through the night with the Ghost of Christmas Present. There are plenty of supernatural special effects as well – some of which will leave you wondering just how they did them!
The Royal Shakespeare Company has a long and rich history with Charles Dickens, surely the nation’s second best writer after Shakespeare (he was a fan himself!), and the novella’s adapter David Edgar has previously worked with the RSC on their the multi-award-winning adaptation of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby. Here he returns to Dickens to rediscover the social conscience of this timeless tale. This version makes much of the social conditions that caused Dickens to write the story in the first place, with some interesting links to how these conditions were not just confined to London, but also Birmingham and the Black Country. In his original story Dickens wanted to highlight the problems of exploitation, destitution, and poverty – over 170 years later have these problems of society really gone away? In these turbulent times the timeless message of compassion, charity, and goodwill to all men really resonate and should leave the audience remembering the true meaning of Christmas.
Every year The RSC put on a lavish, family spectacular and this production continues that wonderful tradition. I really enjoyed this production of A Christmas Carol. It’s a bright, bold, energetic, and fun production. It is well worth making part of your Christmas or New Year celebrations. There is great acting, music, dancing, and heart-warming message – it really is something for the whole family to enjoy,and it’s a great way to start feeling festive! To quote the production itself it is a story that really “echoes down the ages!”
A Christmas Carol is playing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon until 20th January 2019. It is suitable for ages seven and over and children go half price. More information and ticket bookings can be found at rsc.org.uk/a-christmas-carol/
This isn’t a sponsored post. #BrumHour was invited to see A Christmas Carol by The RSC.