A Christmas Carol at the Arts Theatre
For anyone who is not in the festive spirit yet here is your remedy. This is a treat of a performance that will leave audiences as merry as Bob Cratchit after receiving the surprise turkey from Scrooge. Simon Callow is to Dickens as Christmas pudding is to a Christmas dinner: he brings Dickens’s words and world to life. This Yuletide vision makes the heart laugh and offers a message of happiness that if bought “would cost a fortune”.
Dickens chose A Christmas Carol as the last book for his public readings. This one-man show not only conjures up the spirits of Christmas past, present and future but also of the writer. Callow effortlessly switches between characters, bringing them to life and making each different. Projections of snowy rooftops, gravestones and the infamous clock draw us into the imaginative world of the tale. Callow walks between these two worlds switching from narrator to characters.
This is storytelling at its best. It begins with a dry, isolated Callow whose narrator and Scrooge are infected by the cold want of money and lack of warmth that surrounds them. As the story progresses and Scrooge undergoes his transformation Callow becomes more animated, dancing a jig as a young Scrooge, laughing and shouting. Thus the performance ends on a high because we have witnessed the cold, lifeless past. As soon as audiences leave the theatre once again they are bombarded by advertising and shops encouraging them to buy in time for Christmas. Yet Dickens’s Carol continues to chime through the mind, reminding us of a seasonal message centred on humanity and kindness rather than capitalistic greed. In order to escape the Hollywood projections of the perfect and clichéd Christmas, this production should be seen; it both reminds us that not everyone joins in the feast but that we have the capacity to help others who have nothing at this festive time of year. A homeless man sat near to the theatre; almost every play-goer who saw him offered some money in an effort not to become Scrooge.
A Christmas Carol is at the Arts Theatre from 8th December 2016 until 7th January 2017. Book your tickets here.