Oddsocks on the road with A Christmas Carol

Published: 2 December 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

New adaptation: A Christmas Carol

Derby-based Oddsocks Productions is to tour a new adaptation of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to venues across the UK which are under Tier 2 COVID-19 restrictions.

The company, which was facing closure two months ago because of the pandemic, was given a reprieve in the form of a grant from Arts Council England's cultural recovery fund.

Creative producer Elli Mackenzie said, "due to COVID, we had to cancel two tours and a series of other projects. But thanks to our lifeline funding, which provides us with an income until March 2021, and the support of our colleagues who run venues across the UK, we’re relieved to be able to create a new production just in time for Christmas.

“It means we can provide work for freelance creatives and give audiences an opportunity to get to see some live theatre in their region. We’re working hard with our venues to ensure that audiences, venue staff, crew and cast can be safely distanced and enjoy an hour of live performance this December and January."

There are no plans for a performance in the company’s home city as Derby is in Tier 3. Artistic Director Andy Barrow, who is appearing as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, pointed out, “we’re planning to record a live performance of the hour-long play to stream to our audiences across the world after the live tour ends, so there’ll be a chance for everyone to enjoy the usual Oddsocks approach to a Dickens classic."

"Rehearsal has brought about unusual challenges and new ways of working," commented Mackenzie. "During the recent lockdown, we were meeting online to rehearse, Andy and I from our home in Derbyshire, two actors based in Berkhamsted and a third in Bristol.

“We’ve had to work around dodgy wifi connections and one cast member's family bath and bedtimes, but we’re together in our rehearsal room next week and we’re working onstage in three bubbles, making sure that no props or costumes are shared between us. It's going to be challenging logistically but safe, which is the most important thing."

Familiar Oddsocks actor Joseph Maudsley plays Bob Cratchit and Harrie Dobby, who is new to the company, will appear as Mrs Cratchit. The company's new adaptation features puppets performed by Josh Elwell and original music composed by folk singer / songwriter Felix M-B.

Suitable for anyone aged seven and above, A Christmas Carol will be performed at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York on Saturday 12 December at 3 and 7PM and at Kidderminster Town Hall on Sunday 20 December at 1 and 7PM. Further dates are to be announced.