Christmas Review
 

 

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.dash in association with Tacit Theatre and Theatre Delicatessen present

A Christmas Carol

 

by Charles Dickens

 

Adapted by Pete Wrench

Directed by Jessica Jordan-Wrench

 

 

Theatre Delicatessen

 

30 November -24 December 2010

 

 

 


 

 

A review by Carmen Nasr for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Bang in the heart of London’s shopping empire, just off Oxford Street, is the derelict former home of Uzbekistan Airways, which under the ever-innovative hands of Theatre Delicatessen has been transformed into the modern day corporate offices of Ebenezer Scrooge. Sprawling over two floors, Scrooge’s once Victorian headquarters are now a concoction of tangled wires, florescent strip lights, and CCTV screens, all coming together to create an overwhelming aesthetic of gloomy urban decay, authoritarian surveillance and corporate greed. The Dickensian themes of the poor’s plight and suffering, and the brutality of the rich and powerful are given a very relevant and evocative update.
 
The exceptionally well known tale follows Ebenezer Scrooge, a cruel, embittered and tight-fisted old man who shudders in disgust at the very mention of Christmas. In a final bid to change his cold hearted ways before it is too late, he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, who show him the devastating effects his ungenerous spirit has had, and will have on those around him.  Claimed by some historians as a piece of literature that has shaped our modern secular understanding of Christmas as a time for family and generosity of spirit, A Christmas Carol is more than well established in Western cultural consciousness, and an innovative and experimental adaptation such as this one, is very welcome.

Katherine Heath’s design is flawless, and its effect is instantaneous upon walking into the ‘pop-up’ theatre on Picton Place. The smell of mulled wine and the smokey mist that permeates the space, add a perfect sprinkling of Dickensian Victoriana to the modern renovation of Scrooge and Marlowe’s offices. The main space is dominated by a wall of old television screens that beam in the ghostly visions of past, present and future amid blurriness, static and distortion - a clever balance between Dickens’ gothic eeriness and the more modern trend of uncanny digital and electrical disturbance. The installation of an exercise bike in the Clerk’s dingy office to generate electricity humorously embodies Scrooge’s chronic stinginess, while also skilfully providing a creative tool for the dramatic action. While on the subject of design, Eoin Furbank’s lighting and Rob Hart’s sound installations are excellent and unquestionably deserve a mention.

The man himself, Scrooge, is brought to life by Tom Daplyn with the kind of talent and vitality that leaves you mesmerised. Scrooge’s infamous bad temper and ‘Bah! Humbugs’ are never overplayed, and Daplyn makes the various transitions from grumpiness to terror to grovelling remorse with a wonderful ease and credibility that  leave you wanting to watch him all over again. The other actors put in a rather low-key performance, leaving Daplyn to take all the presence needed to make his performance successful.

The production did at times perhaps rely a little too much on the almost global familiarity with A Christmas Carol’s plot-line, and as a result the events of the first half were sometimes a little unclear, and although the absence of Tiny Tim’s tear-jerking appearance was a little disappointing, the rest of the production more than made-up for these omissions.

Jessica Jordan-Wrench directs a production that updates the most famous of yuletide tales with a relevant digital and urban edge, giving it poignancy without sacrificing its enchanting Victorian charm. With a brilliant use of an alternative space, this is a Christmas show that will leave you feeling all festive and merry, while giving you something to think about. As the audience walked out into the snowy streets of central London at the end of the show, the ever relevant Dickensian themes of social injustice, charitable giving and hope lingered on a bit longer on the cold journey home.

 

Box Office: 07708 740 913

www.theatredelicatessen.co.uk

Theatre Delicatessen
3-4 Picton Place, London, W1U 1BJ
Tue to Sat at 7.30pm, Fri and Sat 9.30pm and extra performance Sat 24th at 3pm

£13/£11 Concessions

 

 

 

 

 

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