Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Culture

‘A Christmas Carol’ Review – A Welcome Reminder That Christmas Is Coming

Stephen Mangan (Scrooge) in A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. Credit Manuel Harlan. The image has been cropped.

Roar writer Keir Holmes on a moving and sentimental stage adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” one of the nation’s greatest Christmas stories.

The return of Jack Thorne’s “A Christmas Carol” to the Old Vic has come to the surprise of no one. In its fifth year running, the now annual production of this beloved tale serves as a reminder to us all that the Christmas season has begun.

Every aspect of the play’s design is perfectly tailored to elicit the magic of this season. A cluster of lanterns hanging from the ceiling shines from above like the stars in the sky, and the play opens and closes with handbell chimes reminiscent of all of your favourite Christmas songs. Moreover, the choice to have the audience surround the stage, along with numerous instances of audience participation, removes the distance between us and the performers while giving the show a good sense of humour and festive cheer.

Of course, alongside this festive cheer comes the darkness expected from a ghost story such as this. While it is tempting to criticise Act Two for being almost overly sentimental, director Matthew Warchus contrasts this cheery sentimentality against some truly devastating scenes in Act One. Besides, who can fault a Christmas story for being too sentimental? Although, it is a little disappointing that Thorne left out some of the novel’s more ghoulish moments.

Succeeding actors such as Rhys Ifans and Paterson Joseph, this year Stephen Mangan takes on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Mangan is endlessly entertaining, deftly balancing Scrooge’s cruel and curmudgeonly persona with an underlying charm that points towards a kindness that exists deep, deep within. This somewhat more sympathetic portrayal of the character, even in the earlier scenes, is aided by Thorne’s script, which more than implies that Scrooge’s fraught relationship with his father is core to his many faults.

Another particularly noteworthy performance comes from Jack Shalloo. Shalloo’s moving portrayal of Bob Cratchit makes one of the darkest scenes in the play all the more heartrending. Karen Fishwick’s performance as Belle, Scrooge’s lost love, also stands out by providing some powerfully bittersweet moments.

It is, however, the use of the chorus that truly makes the show. Each member of the cast, bar Mangan, dives in and out of the chorus throughout. Fittingly, for a story known well by everyone in Britain, it is the chorus who narrates and frames the production. The importance placed on it cements the play’s focus on community and togetherness, and helps emphasise Scrooge’s isolation.

With all of its charm and festivity, “A Christmas Carol” provides a perfect start to the Christmas season. Here we see a classic tale told well.

“A Christmas Carol” is playing at the Old Vic until January 8, 2022. You can book tickets here.

Former Culture Editor for Roar News.

Latest

Events

Science Editor Jana Bazeed presents KCL Robotics, a nominee at the King’s College Students’ Union (KCLSU) Awards 2024. With the awards set for 28...

Comment

Staff writer Samira Siakantari, an exchange student at UCLA, recounts her experience of the police crackdown on the UCLA Pro-Palestinian encampment, arguing student protestors...

Interior of a Westminster pub. Interior of a Westminster pub.

Culture

Staff Writer Leah Napier-Raikes explains the success of ‘Baby Reindeer’, a gripping narrative about stalking and abuse. Since its debut on April 11th, ‘Baby...

a female a cappella group on stage a female a cappella group on stage

Culture

Editor-in-Chief Nia Simeonova presents The Rolling Tones, a nominee at the King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) Awards 2024. With the awards set for...

Events

Editor-in-Chief Nia Simeonova presents Women in Business, a nominee at the King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) Awards 2024. With the awards set for...

Comment

Staff writer Ruth Otim reminds us of the conflict in Sudan, and the importance of the media in paying attention to international conflicts. I...

Culture

Roar talks to James Clark, Professor of Cardiovascular and Physiology Education, about the release of his latest Christmas album to raise money for Prostate...

Culture

Staff Writer Anwesh Banerjee contemplates the bittersweet feelings of spending the holiday season away from home, family and friends. I would like to believe...

Culture

Staff Writer Karissa Sweetland-Laube takes a look at the reasons we may need to tighten our purse strings this Christmas and what we can...