A Christmas Carol at Royal Shakespeare Theatre - Review
Tue 08 Nov 2022 - Sun 01 Jan 2023
Charles Dicken's classic festive tale serves as a warning to us all about miserly behaviour and lacking compassion when others are struggling.
So amid the backdrop of the cost of living crisis it seems an apt time for the Royal Shakespeare Company(RSC)
to bring back its successful 2017 version of A Christmas Carol.
When I saw the original, it had excellent Phil Davis as the curmudgeon in a rather grim fashion. This time around Adrian Edmondson takes a turn as Ebenezer Scrooge at Stratford upon Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre until New Year's Day.
Edmondson gives Scrooge a lighter feel with his comedic character acting and he seems to get more laughs from the get-go. There's also a new jokey section based around Boris Johnson that Edmondson leads gleefully too.
This slightly brighter feel sits well since the gloom of the Covid pandemic. Yes, there's some minor refreshes and bits of fine-tuning around the edges, but on the whole it's a very similar production, thankfully. I say that as it was such a first class show to start with.
Alongside the usual tale of three ghosts visiting Scrooge on the eve of Christmas to change his humbug ways, there's also a heavy focus on poverty.
David Edgar adapted the story beautifully, bringing to the fore, the children abandoned in the Victorian workhouses and gluttony among the richer classes.
He's linked it to Charles Dickens' political writings that exposed misery among the poorest in Victorian society along with his own hardships as a child when his father was in debt.
It's all played out in a clever and considered way to make this production loaded with compassion but also wit. A young Dickens and his agent straddle the action as the author is seen creating this masterpiece to include a wishlist of Christmas cliches.
They are all in there, even the snow, and it feels wonderfully festive. Garlands hang from the ceiling and there's joyous dancing from past times before carol singers close Act One.
It feels like a checklist of the most Christmasy things of all time has been well and truly ticked off. When Dickens tries to end with a solemn death, his agent screams out aghast 'you can't do that at Christmas!'
Special effects and full use of the well equipped RSC stage bring all kinds of ghostly shenanigans to life - as good as in any film. What stands out though are the characters and tender human interactions in this compelling show.
Former Casualty actress Sunetra Sarker is well cast as the vivacious, life-affirming Ghost of Christmas Present and giggling Mrs Fezziwig.
Maybe it's because of the current cost of living worries, but Emma Pallant and Mitesh Soni stand out this time as parents Mr and Mrs Cratchett, struggling to feed their family including adorable Tiny Tim.
Their large family crowding round a tiny pudding and being thankful for what they have brings a lump to the throat. It makes you want to donate straight to a foodbank as soon as you leave the theatre.
Despite these difficult undertones, this is the feel-good festive show of the season as it balances out the hardships with wit, compassion and hope.
What you'll take away from it is the importance of empathy and it's ultimately not just a story about the saviour of Scrooge but has a message for us all this Christmas time.
!date 08/11/2022 -- 01/01/2023
70801 - 2023-01-26 01:49:29