As much a part of Christmas as roast turkey and the Queen’s speech, the festive season wouldn’t be the same without a fringe performance of A Christmas Carol in which several actors try to portray a multitude of characters between them.
In a nod to their lack of cast members, numbers are increased during the Fezziwig party by each performer partnering a mannequin torso in a simple but effective dance routine. Such challenges are embraced by the multitalented cast, who speed through a whirlwind of memories, characters and ghostly goings-on with energy and humour.
Holly Blair and Claire Cartwright make an excellent comedy double act as the pair of do-gooders trying to persuade Scrooge to donate money to charity. Their horror at his attitude is hilariously portrayed, making a real highlight out of minor characters.
The entire production is played out with comedy at its centre. The flash-forward introducing the Ghost of Christmas Present that precedes the abrupt interval is very well executed and Robert Rowe dressed as a present is a delight to behold.
The mash-up, Mary Poppins-style, cartoon Cockney dance routine is also a real joy, as is Alyssa Noble’s portrayal of the nauseating little boy who exclaims, “What, the turkey as big as me?”
Once you get past the fact that Benedict Waring’s Scrooge looks exactly like comedian Rob Newman dressed as an old man for his History Today comedy routine, he is a highly satisfactory Scrooge, much more comfortable with his “Bah! Humbug!” persona than as a reformed character.
Indeed, the only criticism that can be made about this warm, energetic show is that there aren’t any remotely scary moments - the ghost of Jacob Marley is fairly loveable, and even the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come looks like he might be fun if he loosened up on a night out. But, quibbles aside, this production is a real festive tonic and a genuine treat.
Verdict: An energetic and innovative interpretation of the Christmas classic that places the focus firmly on fun