A Christmas Carol – Northern Stage

A Christmas Carol – frightful, fast, festive fun!

If anyone can turn Dickens dark Victorian moral tale into a right rollicking good show, it’s Northern Stage in Newcastle.

A Christmas Carol has never been the jolliest of Christmas stories. It features heavy moralistic themes of poverty, death and greed, as well as a fascination with the supernatural. All favourite preoccupations of the Victorian era. However, this version is lifted from its darkest origins by a cracking soundtrack based on real carols, and a non stop energetic cast.

Neil Bartlett’s adaptation sticks to the original story and the show has Northern Stage’s signature inventive set design and gorgeous colourful costumes. Any show which features such a wide selection of colourful Fair isle knitwear is always going to have a head start with me.  Composer G Hannabiell Sanders effects a delightful update on our traditional Christmas carols. Everything from In the Bleak Mid Winter to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, is transformed by adopting a selection of musical styles. Throughout the show we get everything from jazz, to gospel to a funky African beat. It’s definitely a toe tapping experience!

A Christmas Carol – the players

At first I though Nick Figgis as Scrooge too young, and not sufficiently curmudgeonly for the part, but his pixie like persona grew on me. He is funny and lively, and does a fine turn in hang dog remorse. He gets the audience interaction just right, and he rose to the challenge of the physical comedy as the show progressed. Craig Fairbairn is a canny Bob Cratchit, and Will Pennington manages to negotiate some scary stilts as the Ghost of Christmas past. Several of the talented cast including Clara Darcy, are familiar faces from other Christmas shows, and they all sing and dance with great enthusiasm and energy, without flagging from beginning to end.

A Christmas Carol – a Christmas cracker of a show!

From the scary zombie dancing and the looming faceless ghost of Christmas yet to come, to the joyful celebratory finale, the show keeps up its express pace. The in the round staging, works much better in the smaller auditorium. In the larger space, productions sometimes tend to lose focus, and you can find that you really don’t quite know where to look. Director Mark Calvert always likes to go a little off the theatrical piste with his festive productions, and a Christmas Carol is no exception. It’s a very enjoyable show,and just a little bit Christmas crazy!

A Christmas Carol is at Northern Stage until 5th January.

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