A Christmas Carol @ The Grand Theatre

By Carys Svendsen & Laurence Brown

***/5

‘You shall be visited by the ghost of reviews past, the ghost of reviews present and the ghost of reviews yet to come’

-Ebenezer Scrooge, Waterfront Culture Editor

By now most people are familiar with the story of A Christmas Carol. If you aren’t, then beware of spoilers ahead and instead of reading this article, go and watch A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, purely for Michael Caine singing and being Ebenezer Scrooge.

That being said, The Abbey Players production was a good adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Having never seen the story on stage before, it was interesting to see the scene changes and travelling of the ghosts as well as the bustling streets of Victorian London.  A personal highlight was Jacob Marley’s dance number urging Scrooge to change his ways or quite literally be chained to the rhythm of his song, despite a few footwork fumbles in places.

That being said, it was the songs and dances with the chorus of actors that tarnished the performance. It seemed clear that rehearsals were based mainly around the main parts and not the chorus as the placement on stage seemed awkward and the placement of microphones meant that the main actors were drowned out over the chorus, and even vice versa when it came to solos within the chorus.  Although a lot of care had been taken into the costumes and set design, including a snow flurry at the end of the production which helped ring a Christmas feeling throughout the theatre, it was the actual performance which just needed a lot of polishing to help create a truly magical play.

A particular shoutout needs to go to Carys Melodie Comlie for her portrayal of The Ghost of Christmas Past and the Lamp Lighter. Her vocal range was impressive and distinctive throughout the performance, particularly within the chorus itself. The innocence of The Ghost of Christmas Past was spot on, creating an even more devastating effect when reviewing Scrooge’s life to make him change his ways. I was also a fan of her book, which glowed when opened and created a magical feel.

Bob Cratchit, played by Dale Gravell, was also a superb portrayal. His wholesomeness and kind heartedness, as well as his capacity to even forgive Scrooge despite his unfair working conditions, was brought into all his scenes, and is a key element to Cratchit’s character. The scene with him and Tiny Tim singing brought a tear to the audience’s eyes as both characters were enjoying themselves and having a Father and Son moment despite Tiny Tim’s rapidly deteriorating condition. It was moments like these that really made the play, as well as Gravell’s voice creating an excellent melody!

On top of this, the scene featuring Scrooge seeing his own grave was an interesting scene to stage, let alone see. The Ghost of Christmas Past, wearing rags and a pale face, was an interesting costume choice (Leanne Godfrey-Noble had a sinister air about her character, a common motif with The Ghost of Christmas Past) in itself, and with her fluid movement around the stage created an interesting portrayal. The grave of Ebenezer Scrooge however, was brilliant. It almost looked like hellfire had appeared on stage and a giant gravestone made the scene even better as the tense atmosphere and terror throughout the audience made the scene even better. If Scrooge ever needed an incentive to change his ways, a giant gravestone with his name on whilst being surrounded in an orange light would be a good deterrent from your old ways!

All in all, it was a good production which just needed some polishing in a few places. That being said, words cannot contain the excitement for the Abbey Players next production, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, in October 2018. For now though, we hope you enjoy the Christmas Holidays and feel as festive as we did when we walked out of the theatre.

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