Every year, we have a festive family outing to London to go and see a play. In 2014, it was The Play That Goes Wrong; last December it was A Christmas Carol, at the Noel Coward. In December 2012, we saw The 39 Steps which was very good – and this was another Patrick Barlow adaptation. I was really looking forward to the play because A Christmas Carol is such a classic and I’d read the book numerous times before; it was going to be interesting to see what kind of spin Barlow would put on it.
After enjoying an aperitif of prosecco, we took our seats in the stalls, where I unashamedly necked it. We had a really good view and although we were to the right of the stage, we were about 16 rows up, so weren’t too low down. The set was cleverly designed and was revolving, which made each scene performed, perfect. From the typically Victorian London streets, to Scrooge’s four-poster bed and room, the novel was really brought to life.
One thing that was incredible was that there were only five actors and two puppeteers. Considering the number of roles to be filled, the cast were amazing. Jim Broadbent made an excellent Ebenezer Scrooge; I recognised Samantha Spiro (Mrs Lack/Lavinia Bentham/Maid/Ghost of Christmas Present) from Grandma’s House and her performance was reminiscent of Barbara Windsor; while Four Lions’ Adeel Akhtar made a very good Bob Cratchit, too. The puppeteers were brilliant, controlling the movements of the Cratchit children and I thoroughly enjoyed the scene before the Ghost of Christmas Present arrived with the lights and movement in the dark.
By using satirical elements during the performance, not only did this make it a little different, but it also related to the hardships facing modern day society, while appealing to a wider audience. This only strengthened the plot, in my opinion. The flying scenes with the puppeteers were also humorous and added a bit of energy. Despite this, I would say that the performance could be watched by children – I don’t personally think it was scary.
Although the play was split into two parts with a 15 minute interval, I wondered if it would have been better suited to three parts – one for each ghost. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the performance at all, it was just an after sight.
A Christmas Carol is running until January 30th with tickets ranging from £23 to £114. Whilst it’s such a traditional Christmas story, I thoroughly recommend going to see it – not least for the performance of Broadbent and the illuminated scenes. Yes, it’s not what you’d expect, but it isn’t a radicalisation of the timeless classic!
Love, Lucy xx