Bristol Old Vic's Christmas production.
Pulsating with energy, this is a witty and insightful adaptation which does not shy away from the deeper themes of this favourite of all seasonal tales. There is something of the commedia troupe ambience to this production which makes it entirely watchable throughout.
Director Lee Lyford has maximised the acting and musical ability of the cast including integral use of British Sign Language by Stephen Collins as Bob Cratchit. Through puppetry, clever staging and atmospheric lighting the audience is transported on Scrooge’s full journey to a point of spectacularly colourful redemption.
Gwyneth Herbert’s score is a triumph – never overpowering, nor understated it is undeniably the glue that brings together this compact and talented cast. The ghost of Jacob Marley shares a hauntingly memorable song with clever lyrics that perfectly echo Dickens’ wonderful words and leave Scrooge quaking. While the Fezziwigs celebrate Christmas to a light hearted tripping air which sends the actors into a conga around the christmas table.
The addition of traditional pantomime devices under the careful hand of Christmas Present (who else!) – audience participation, children on stage, reading out audience comments – are cleverly integrated; not a distraction and seemingly completely acceptable asides in this Dickensian classic.
This is definitely a Christmas outing that will appeal to the whole family.