If ever a story was to get you in the mood for Christmas then it has to be Charles Dickens’ much loved classic, ‘A Christmas Carol’, throw in a festive sing-along, interactive Victorian parlour games and a fine festive feast and you’ve got all the right ingredients for a rather fabulous evening.
After four years of successful runs in Yorkshire, York Theatre Royal’s associate company, The Flannagan Collective, have teamed up with Manchester based producers Hartshorn-Hook to gift local audiences with their unique spin on the tale of old bah-humbugging Ebenezer Scrooge.
The audience are invited to enter the candlelit pop up theatre by our warm and welcoming host, the ghost of Jacob Marley (John Holt Roberts) who explains that collectively we are here to try and help Ebenezer Scrooge (Al Barclay) understand the true meaning of Christmas and hopefully have a jolly good time whilst doing so!
Sitting around a long dining table we are guests in Scrooge’s parlour, the audience are soon involved in the telling of the story with the ringing of bells to the spooking of Scrooge to get him through the front door to allow the action to commence. We travel through Christmas past, present and future just as Dickens would have liked with audience members playing small roles in key moments along the way. Director Thomas Bellerby and writer Alexander Wright have worked together to ensure this adaptation of the classic tale allows the actors to keep the pace flowing whilst including just the right amount of interaction with their audience.
Barclay plays a wonderfully bad-tempered and hostile Scrooge, sneering and scornful just as he should be, and so our challenge begins. Although initially resistant, through merry cheer and Christmas carolling we slowly see his heart begin to soften. Led by our host John Holt Roberts who plays a charismatic and musical Jacob Marley the audience soon begins to get into the swing of things and relishes their role in spreading Christmas cheer. The dinner served during the show from Manchester Catering Company is a fine spread and amongst the passing of cheese boards and devouring of boozy Christmas puds we see Scrooge move further towards the Christmas loving creature he becomes by the end of the play. The pace continues well after dinner with more dramatic scenes which are well played out and the ending…..well I’ll let you see that yourself, for me it was worth the ticket price alone.
If you are looking for a bit of festive fun this Christmas you’d be hard pressed to find a more entertaining evening than this and are guaranteed to leave the theatre with a smile on your face and your Christmas cheer levels significantly increased.
Showing at the Great Northern Playhouse until 20th December before transferring to York’s Guildhall (22nd Dec – 4th Jan).