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Review: A Christmas Carol, Lakeside Arts Centre

Posted on 16 December 2013 by Katie Angus

A Christmas Carol Lakeside Arts CentreVicky, James and their miserable brother Andrew arrive expectantly at Auntie Val’s cottage, excited for a relaxing and cosy Christmas, and for the treats Auntie Val has laid out especially for them. Yet with no Auntie Val, no Christmas food to be seen, and a power cut plunging the three into a cold, unwelcoming darkness, their luck seems to have run out. It appears the Doctor Who Christmas special is certainly not on the cards this year, as the friends turn to telling ghost stories in order to pass the time. Andrew – played by Alec Fellows-Bennett – easily spooked and even more easily angered, becomes increasingly caught up in the story spun around him; yet, even when he realises the story being acted out is Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and he is Scrooge, he is unable to stop. Christmas is in full force at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre, as music, magic and mayhem propel the three characters into the world of Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley and the ghosts, with fun and refreshing vivacity.

A Christmas Carol, directed by Martin Berry, is a retelling of Dickens’ tale that is perfect for youngsters. It is a creative and colourful production which, in only one hour, gives the traditional festive tale a thoroughly modern makeover. The production’s set design conjures up all the homely delights of a fireside Christmas time, whilst clever digital additions help to bring the story to life with extra special magic.

However, what makes this production so good is not its use of little digital extras, but the creativity with which the story is told through the body and character. As Vicky – played by Josie Rattigan – implores, “the imagination is a powerful thing”: indeed, the audience is swept up alongside Vicky, James and Andrew into a world where any object can become any character – with the help of a little imagination and Christmas cheer. In A Christmas Carol, a fantastically choreographed moment sees almost the entire Cratchit family presented by James (played by Matthew Bloxham) with only one scarf, whilst Mr. Fezziwig and others are portrayed by a packet of Wotsits. Each character in Dickens’s tale is represented through the clever and comic manipulation of ordinary household objects: an originality rarely seen for such a well-known story.

So easy as it is to get swept up in the materialism of the Christmas season, the moral of Dickens’s tale has a long and lasting impact upon the three friends, as well as the audience who can recognise the modern Christmas scene on stage. It is a simple and funny rendition of an age-old tale – a perfectly heart-warming production filled with Christmas magic.

A Christmas Carol is playing at the Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham, until 29 December. For more information and tickets please see the Lakeside Arts Centre website.

Katie Angus

Katie Angus

Katie Angus is an undergraduate currently in her final year studying English at the University of Nottingham. She loves reviewing theatre productions in her spare time, works at her local theatre and will talk endlessly about the theatre to anyone who cares to listen!

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New writing in the regions

Posted on 02 April 2012 by Laura Turner

The last week has seen the hugely successful National Theatre Connections Festival come to Sheffield Theatres, offering opportunities for young people in the local area to get involved in a celebration of some of the most thrilling new international writing.

Performed by some of the rising stars of the region, NT Connections offers a unique opportunity for young theatre talent to get directly involved with new writing. A nationwide project, it features new plays that have been especially commissioned and written by some of the most exciting British and international playwrights.

The pieces are being performed in the Studio Theatre, Sheffield until Wednesday 4th April, brought to life by twelve local youth companies and school groups from Sheffield, Rotherham, Nottingham, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. Sheffield Theatres is one of 20 partner venues across the UK, from Bristol to Belfast, hosting the festival and offering opportunities to local creative young people.

Connect Festival

As part of National Theatre Connections, Sheffield Theatres is also running the Connect Festival. This offers young people aged between 13 and 19 the chance to get involved in a variety of workshops led by industry professionals, including performance, directing, design, voice and movement, as well as the chance to take part in a musical theatre session with Sheffield Theatres’ Artistic Director, Daniel Evans.

Sheffield Theatres’ Creative Projects Manager, Emily Hutchinson said: “We are delighted to be working with the National Theatre on National Theatre Connections. Sheffield Theatres has a long-standing reputation for nurturing and supporting new, young talent so it is great to be a part of such a valuable and innovative festival, which challenges and inspires young people. It is going to be a fantastic week with two performances each evening and interval acts, as well as workshop and performance opportunities, and at just £5 per ticket this is the perfect opportunity to experience and get involved with the theatre.”

Events still to come this week:

National Theatre Connections Festival Day 5: Monday 2nd April

Alice By Heart by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik
Performed by Stolti Delizia
7.15pm. Tickets £5.00.

Little Foot by Craig Higginson
Performed by Easy Street Theatre
7.15pm. Tickets £5.00.

National Theatre Connections Festival Day 6: Tuesday 3rd April

Journey To X by Nancy Harris
Performed by Theatreworks
7.15pm. Tickets £5.00.

The Grandfathers by Rory Mullarkey
Performed  by Lakeside Youth Theatre
7.15pm. Tickets £5.00.

Connect Workshop: Movement for Actors

A practical workshop which looks at how we bring the character to life through our bodies. Participants will need to work in loose, comfortable clothing and soft shoes or bare feet.

Tuesday 3rd April, 10.00am – 1.00pm (13 – 15 years) and 2.00pm – 5.00pm (16 – 19 years). Tickets £5.00.

Crucible Young Writers Rehearsed Readings

An informal evening of four new plays written by young people aged 13 – 19 years. Join us in the Studio Theatre for these rehearsed readings, celebrating new writing from these very new playwrights!

Wednesday 4th April, 7.15pm. Tickets £2.50.

Tickets for both the performances and workshops during the National Theatre Connections Festival are on sale now and can be bought by calling the Box Office on 0114 249 6000 or online at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

Laura Turner

Laura Turner

Laura trained as a writer with Hull Truck Theatre, BBC New Talent and the Royal Court Theatre. She has worked extensively with touring theatre company Chapterhouse, where she is currently Writer in Residence. Laura has previously written for BBC EastEnders: E20 and her adaptation of Jane Eyre toured theatres with Hull Truck Theatre Company at the start of 2013. She is now working on an original play for the theatre, as well as projects with Bolton Octagon, Middle Child Theatre and The Ashton Group, Cumbria. She has been long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwrighting and the Adrienne Benham Award.

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