A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens, adapted by Debbie Oates

Dukes Theatre

Dukes Theatre

From 29 November 2013 to 04 January 2014

Review by Denis W McGeary

A cold and starry night, a walk to the busy Dukes, Lancaster, through to The Round for the Christmas production, an adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

The opening scene finds the ghost of Sarah Siddons performing some pretty nifty magic in the churchyard and being interrupted by the urchin Gracie Fishwick. Newly dead and very confused, she is soon joined by the ghosts of Mary and Roger Holden.

Their desire is to escape their current limbo and find peace and rest. To do that they have find the coldest, meanest heart and make it warm. Well you can guess whose heart that might be, can’t you?

No need to drag it out, you know the story. It’s Ebenezer Scrooge, and yes they find he has a heart, he sees the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future, repents and is wonderfully changed. Job done and the ghosts get their rest.

No need to go, is there?

But if you do go, and I recommend you do go, to The Dukes you will enjoy a wonderful story, well adapted with great humour by Debbie Oates and directed with a sense of fun and a twinkle in his eye by Joe Sumsion.

The compact space is used to great advantage. Two vertiginous ladders lead to platforms that make the freezing office of Marley and Scrooge. Scrooge is a hunched and stiff man with a sour and grating voice and only interested in making money. Bob Cratchit is gentle man scraping by on a pittance.

We meet the Cratchits, Scrooge’s lovely niece Belle and her husband, a wonderful puppet rat at Scrooge’s house, Tiny Tim—a puppet to pull at your heart strings—the ghost of Joseph Marley, Mr Fezziwig. We learn that Scrooge was not always a skinflint and he had been in love as a young man.

Beautifully written, played with enthusiasm and great skill by a talented and hard working cast, A Christmas Carol has to be a ‘must do’ for this year. What else? Well the music, the songs, the set, the lighting are excellent too.