The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is one of which most people are accustomed to, perhaps from reading the book, or having watched many the film adaption, which quite possibly had the Muppets in. This age-old tale of morality and values adorns our screens every Christmas in many shapes and forms, generally on a large scale production; Brother Wolf’s one man show, performed by James Hyland, is a unique adaptation, which brings a fresh and alternative edge to A Christmas Carol.
WIth a dimming of the lights and the howling of all those in hell, a door to the stage swings open and slowly and painfully, the audience are met with a chained Jacob Marley. Every inch of his body is covered in pale face paint, his eyes are bloodshot and there is a sense of sorrow in the air before a word is spoken.
Hyland’s immense presence and physicality is evident from the moment he steps onto the stage, with every movement carefully thought out and meaningfully placed with solid intention. Hyland tells the story of A Christmas Carol by physically morphing into each character, with separate mannerisms, voices and quips. The changes are fast, demanding and convincing, with entertaining methods of conveying height, personality and differences in physicality. Such as when the giant comes to greet him, Hyland manages to extend himself greatly at the introduction of the character, which he holds throughout the time he is featured. His performance is full of immense energy which keeps the audience engaged and interested throughout.
The set is a simple chair which Hyland adapts and transforms throughout the performance, which is used as a constant to return to. Nicki Martin-Harper designed the costume which is a period piece, but altered so that it is easy for Hyland to jump, duck and dive in. It is well designed and thought-out.
Overall, the production is entertaining and an impressive feat of physical storytelling from a talented solo performer.
A Christmas Carol – As told by Jacob Marley (deceased) played at the New Wimbledon Theatre on November 26. It plays at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on December 16.
Photo: Hayden Phoenix