By Chenoah Eljan
A Christmas Carol is a timeless classic that reminds us there are many things more valuable than money, including love, human connection, charity and generosity. This adaptation written by Jack Thorne does so with wit, music, and a contemporary sensibility. No matter how well you know the story, how many adaptions you have read or seen over the years (muppets or otherwise), Thorne’s A Christmas Carol feels as important and relevant now as ever.
This is a brilliant ensemble piece, and its strongest moments are when the entire cast is on stage dancing, playing instruments, bustling. The cast is strong together and strong each in their own right. Welshman Owen Teale of Game of Thrones fame plays Ebenezer Scrooge after performing in the role at the Old Vic in London last year. Teale’s Scrooge is a beautifully sympathetic one, not a villain. Sarah Morrison is captivating as Belle, and it is clear why she was asked to reprise this role after last year’s production. Debra Lawrance commands the stage as the Ghost of Christmas Past. She does so with humour and poise and facial expressions that make you never want to cross her. Bernard Curry’s Bob Cratchit is touching and nuanced, it is a shame that Cratchit does not have more time on stage. Seven-year-old Mira Feldman’s debut as Tiny Tim (sharing the role with Alexis Abela, Evie Rose Hennessy, and Libby Segal) is commendable. Feldman is a pro already, not missing a mark, and incredibly adorable. The use of such a small child in the role of Tiny Tim adds significant emotional impact in the scene where Tiny Tim dies. The audience is genuinely brought to tears, and it is a powerful moment in a show that for the most part is witty quips and snarky banter.
The set is stark, intended to demonstrate Scrooge’s modest house which is more prison than home. Overhead hang hundreds of lanterns evoking London and Christmas and bygone times. The lanterns extend over the heads of the audience and are truly magical when lit. The stage itself has four heaped piles of these lanterns which never move, restricting the cast to a rather limited portion of the stage. It is a touring set if ever there was one, with very little to it and not much made of it throughout the show. There is a heavy reliance instead on sound effects which, while expertly deployed, are far more distracting than enchanting, and primarily serve to make one question whether the handbell numbers are being performed live or mimed.
The audience is left touched, inspired, and motivated, not made to feel guilt or shame. Unlike like many other adaptations, this A Christmas Carol is not all Christmas nostalgia and villain redemption. This is a reminder that we are all human, connected, and that none of us are past hope.
Images: Jess Busby