A Christmas Carol

Chroeographed by Massimo Moricone
Northern Ballet Theatre
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, and touring
(2009)

Production photo

One of the many productions by Northern Ballet Theatre, this was originally directed by the late Christopher Gable and now by David Nixon who truly talks about a unique combination of acting and dance. This splendid evening tellls the well known story of Scrooge experiencing Cristmas past, present and future and pointed up by the three relevant Ghosts, each more forthright and frightening than its predecessor.

A constructive mime sets the scene in the office of Marley and Scrooge, with the burial of Marley and Scrooge's determination to keep his junior Bob Cratchit at work till the last minute on Christmas eve. He eventually gets home to greet his family, including Tiny Tim and they share their limited repast.

In the meantime, Scrooge retires to bed, but not to sleep as the first Ghost appears and chases him round to look at his past when he could not come to terms with his potential wife's wishes, being too keen on the money.

The Ghost of Christmas Present shows him an example of appropriate family behaviour in the home of his clerk, Bob Cratchit, who manages to celebrate on his small income, and take care of Tiny Tim. The warmth of the communal dancing and singing comes through magnificently with individual and interactive dance weaving a pattern of joyous entertainment under the nose of the disapproving Scrooge.

At last his future is spelt out by a Ghost who is a skeleton of great vigour and Scrooge finds himself watching the future, another burial, with the stone inscribed SCROOGE.

Till this point, Scrooge (Darren Goldsmith), had demonstrated his great acting qualities, and one wondered whether he had been imported as an actor - but no. In a vigorous mime he dressed himself in his smart gentleman's clothes and danced away to rouse the people to join him in the excitement of discovery that all could be altered by appropriate acceptance of the need for change.

This performance, hardly a traditional ballet, demonstrated the range of opportunities available for the dancers: dancing, acting, singing, miming and with some delightful comedy included, offers an evening enjoyable, and indeed enjoyed, by a wide range of ages and interests, and enhanced by the invisible orchestra which received its own warm applause when the conductor, Nigel Gaynor joined the company at the finale.

Touring to Theatre Royal Nottingham - 17 - 21 November; Grand Theatre Leeds 1-10 December, 2009

Reviewer: Philip Seager