Vicky, 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.