Dickens’ Christmas Carol in English theatre

This video from England says about itself:

9 November 2017

Our cast of ‘A Christmas Carol’ tell us about their favourite Christmas tradition and which character from the story they like the most!

‘A Christmas Carol’ is playing at the Octagon Theatre Bolton from Fri 17 November 2017 – Sat 13 January 2018

Based on the novel by Charles Dickens

Adapted for the stage by Neil Duffield

Directed by Ben Occhipinti

By Paul Foley in England:

A Christmas cracker

Saturday 25th November 2017

PAUL FOLEY sees a great version of a seasonal Dickens favourite in Bolton

A Christmas Carol
Octagon Theatre, Bolton

WHAT’S the difference between Ebenezer Scrooge and a Tory Chancellor or celebrity tax dodger? After some ghostly persuasion, Scrooge eventually realises that, with a fairer redistribution of wealth, society as a whole benefits and everyone is happier.

And in this adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic by Neil Duffield, Marc Small makes a great Scrooge in Ben Occhipinti’s traditional production. He’s all spindly and crooked as he angrily barks at the world — the poor, the homeless and the sick can all go and die, he rages, the world would be a better place without them.

But, post-ghostly visitations, the re-educated Scrooge becomes positively light and frothy as he splashes the cash and his only problem is that, at the rate he dishes out the money, he may end up in the poorhouse himself.

This may be Dickens-lite but Occhipinti’s narrative pacing and Liz Cooke’s clever set design keep an audience of all ages engrossed. And it’s a production well served by its cast, with Susan Devaney a cracking ghost of Christmas Present — with her broad northern accent and hair piled up and lit like a Christmas tree, she’s as fizzy as a glass of bubbly.

And there’s a marvellous moment when everyone’s favourite paupers, the saintly Cratchit family, are thanking God for their miserable scraps and Martina Isibor’s wonderful Mrs Cratchit starts speaking to her children in Jamaican patois. There’s something beautifully subversive about this master stroke.

The talented actor-musicians incorporate well-known carols which help give the whole production a festive spirit and the six local children who play an array of scraggy urchins aren’t just there to make up the numbers. Most theatres give kids walk-on parts for the cute factor but here they’re integral to the production.

This video from Bolton says about itself:

1 Nopvember 2017

We asked the young company of our upcoming festive production to take some time out of their busy rehearsal schedule to tell us which carol from the production they like the most and what they love about this classic Dickens story!

You can see ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Octagon Theatre Bolton from Fri 17 November 2017 – Sat 13 January 2018

The Paul Foley article continues:

Given the turmoil that this government’s creating, it’s apt that Bolton, a once great industrial town now suffering under neoliberal austerity, should stage a Dickens classic. It’s good old family fun and will provide a couple of hours relief from the daily grind.

The only slight worry is that the Octagon is already advertising next year’s Christmas production, Oliver Twist, which suggests that Bolton isn’t expecting a better 2018. Bah, humbug to that!

Runs until January 13, box office: octagon bolton.co.uk.

UK living standards facing longest decline in more than 60 years: here.

3 thoughts on “Dickens’ Christmas Carol in English theatre

  1. Pingback: London Grenfell disaster survivors’ homeless Christmas | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, new film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Tuesday 12th December 2017

    Lurking beneath the festive jollity, the RSC’s version of the Dickens classic is a reminder of grim present realities, says GORDON PARSONS

    A Christmas Carol
    The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

    WITH the latest estimation that over 3.5 million children in Britain are living in poverty, Charles Dickens’s famous Christmas ghost story is a telling choice for the RSC’s seasonal show.

    David Edgar’s sharply tweaked adaptation doesn’t need to labour contemporary parallels.

    In it, Nicholas Bishop’s incensed Dickens, formerly a parliamentary correspondent, is preparing to produce a pamphlet responding to the horrifying details in an 1843 government report on the conditions of child labour in mines and factories.

    His friend and biographer John Foster urges him to write one of his Christmas tales with his characteristic play on “Emotion! Tears and laughter!” The author finally agrees, “as long as its subject is oppression, misery and want.”

    But while keeping us aware that this is about the sufferings at large in the world, Edgar and director Rachel Kavanaugh provide all of Dickens’s humour, festive jollity, comic characters and, of course, a happy ending.

    If Fezziwig’s ball explodes with communal delight, Bob Crachit’s family enthusing over their meagre goose dinner reminds us of the reality for so many. There are not many dry eyes when, convulsed with an ominous cough, Jude Muir’s Tiny Tim’s song is completed by his brother and sisters, with Edgar readily underscoring the emotional charge provided by Dickens.

    Phil Davis’s crabby Scrooge gives just that hint of enjoying his meanness which, through his ghostly education, credibly turns into childlike, self-satisfying benevolence.

    The three Christmas spirits — the melancholic Past, like Miss Haversham wandering in from Great Expectations, Present, resembling some overweight cornucopian mother figure and Future, a Victorian funeral mute – conduct Scrooge through his life, leaving him desperate to know whether it is too late to change.

    Designer Stephen Brimson Lewis recreates the evocative world of the famous Boz illustrations, while Catherine Jayes’s music and the full technical resources of the RSC mirror Dickens’s creative imagination.

    Our present-day Cabinet, obsessed by the ghost of future Brexit, should take a break from their self-inflicted shambles and pay a visit to this salutary reminder of the Tiny Tims of today.

    Runs until February 4, box office: rsc.org.uk



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