A Christmas Carol Brockley Jack 16 December

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There’s a story about Wolfgang Pauli and George Gamow going to the zoo once and looking at the bears.  A large she-bear padded up to the door of her cage, fetched the lock a hefty swipe then looked disappointedly at the still-intact lock before sadly shaking her head and padding off.

–That bear reminds me of you, Gamow,–said the elder physicist.  She has a good idea, but she doesn’t follow it through.

That tends to be how I think of  Ebenezer Scrooge.  I also wondered what an adaptation by Neil Bartlett would be like–would there be many new parts for scantily-dressed young men?

In fact it was very well-done, the best thing I’ve seen in this theatre.  Instead of young men, this was a music-based version with the higher voices supplied by characters wearing male attire that bulged somewhat around the chest region, providing part of  a choir that sang the action:

–Scratch, scratch, scratch

–Tick, tick, tick

–Lock, lock, lock.

The adaptation was highly proficient and the economical staging (where, for instance, Scrooge’s bed served as the table for the Cratchits to eat their Christmas dinner off and the Ghost of Christmas Present pushed Scrooge around in a shopping trolley) was extremely effective.

I suppose in form the thing was like an early Aeschylean tragedy, where you had the protagonist (Scrooge) pitted against a chorus from which members would emerge from time to time to play a specific role.  Toby Eddington was very good as Scrooge–even though he didn’t get to sing–and while it would be invidious to single any of the ‘chorus’ out for special praise, Katie Scarfe was very lovely as some of the more romantic female characters.  (Whatever his other failings–such as not being able to write a grammatical sentence in his native language–Dickens could certainly do women.)

The whole was very incisively directed (and designed!) by Kate Bannister.

Well done everyone!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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