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A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Carol


from the novel by Charles Dickens

Adapted and Directed by David Hutchinson and Anna Schneider

 

Greenwich Playhouse

 

6 December 2011 - 15 January 2012

 

 

Dickens’ festive, moral fable of redemption A Christmas Carol is a perennial favourite. It tells the story of the miserly, soured Scrooge, visited by the ghost of the chained Jacob Marley and three spirits, the ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Future. As the clock ticks on Christmas Eve, Scrooge undergoes a spiritual and emotional transformation to show that in the end, "greed done good"

 Sell a Door’s production of A Christmas Carol at the Greenwich Playhouse is a modern, Top Shop-take on Dickens’ classic tale. They have been faithful to the text, perhaps too much so at times. Some of the anachronisms can appear forced: Bob Cratchett’s ‘seat of books’ as he sits in hug-a-hoodie-wool top and others, ill-thought through.   

Yet there is a clever idea in the use of a blackboard to change scene, location and comment upon the action. The change in Scrooge’s door knocker, as he goes home alone, so beloved in the book, is witty and sharp, as is the depiction of the London Eye at the beginning of the action, firmly rooting the story as a London tale.

The production features carols and musical fare jazzed up, souped-up, Musacked with strong, confident harmonies under the musical direction of Philip Rryder. ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’, led by Charlotte Mason-Apps with clarinets, flutes, violins was particularly effective. Bells and cymbals add to the eerie atmosphere, as does the clock in which time ticks by for Scrooge……

There were some sharp, witty characterisations: the two philanthropists bringing ‘the Xmas factor’ (Rowena Lennon and Jenny Palmer), fresh-faced Fred (Christopher Rowland) and the young Scrooge a gauche Nick Bechman.

The ghosts of Christmas Past and Present were like two vamped up-tripped-out laddettes out on a Friday night.  ‘Scroogy-Woogy-Woo’, giggles, with dark-eyed circles slipped in from The Rocky Horror Show. Green holly, chestnuts and mince-pies have never been more suggestive, yet in a world where poverty, want and ignorance play such a strong role this Little Britain moment strikes an odd note. Similarly, the spirits’ conniption fit at the end of the scenes takes away from Scrooge’s redemptive journey.

  Stephen Barden plays Scrooge in the early part like Dirk Bogard in The Servant. He has a sixties’ look with glasses, utilitarian, dark suit and monosyllabic responses. Yet his growing awareness of his own greed and obsessiveness is believable and there is a genuine skip and a jump as he orders the out-sized turkey for the Cratchetts and makes Bob a partner.   

The ensemble company do well with the fast-changes between the scenes and festive song. They move scenery, props, play instruments, multi-role and have been marshalled well under the direction of David Hutchinson and Anna Schneider, who also adapted the story.

A Christmas Carol a shadow of things that have been and will always be…….God bless us everyone…..

 

 
Greenwich Playhouse
  Greenwich Station Forecourt, 189 Greenwich High Road, London, SE10 8LA
Tuesday – Saturday @ 19:30 | Sundays @ 16:00
NO PERFORMANCES ON 24th, 25th, 27th, 31st Dec 2011 and 1st Jan 2012
Tickets £13, £10 (concession)
Box Office: 020 8858 9256 | boxoffice@galleontheatre.co.uk | www.galleontheatre.co.uk


 

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