A Christmas Carol – The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Music and Lyrics: Will Dollard & Mary Erskine

Director: Andy Barry

December is finally upon us, which means that the annual tradition of Christmas performances is everywhere, A Christmas Carol being a firm classic. But not many re-enactments of this staple show are hosted in such jaw-droppingly beautiful venues as The Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Goblin Theatre has bought Scrooge’s storyline to life with a medley of songs and musical interludes in this hour-long performance. Following the original timeline, mean businessman Scrooge is visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, shining a light on his miserable, disrespectful ways in the hope of turning him into a nicer person come Christmas day.

It’s hard to put an original spin on a show that’s been done so many times, but the music and lyrics from Will Dollard and Mary Erskine contribute to the uniqueness by making this part festive carolling concert, part theatrical performance. The actors are extremely vocally talented, their melodic voices carrying throughout the hall with hauntingly beautiful renditions of each song.

The Painted Hall itself is stunning and is a perfect venue to host a show such as A Christmas Carol. Although, it has the capability to over-shine almost, such a beautiful venue means it’s easy to get distracted during some of the quieter parts of the show. The other issue with a venue such as this are the acoustics. While the echo, at points, adds to the atmosphere, there are various stages throughout where it is quite hard to hear, which is disappointing because the lyrics clearly have a lot of work put into them. However, the cast makes use of the space well.

Although the whole cast is engaging, Matt Burns stands out and is absolutely spectacular. His bellowing voice carries the story and narrates each scene with his larger-than-life persona. His projection is never lost, even within such a large space, so it’s impressive that he almost single-handedly carries the spoken word portion of the show. The rest of the cast (Mia Jerome, Niccolo Curradi, Victoria Boyce and Rob Gathercole) contribute to various roles; such as ghosts, family members and party guests, while also playing their instruments and singing each original song remarkably.

Goblin Theatre utilises props and minimal scenery well, especially during songs such as The Ghost Train with a makeshift train running through the stage built from spotlights. Tiny Tim is played by a miniature violin and although his acting style was suitably wooden in nature, it is a stroke of amusing creativity from the team. Lighting designer Pete Rickards and sound designer Dan Mawson also help to work in conjunction with subtle yet noticeable dim lighting and sound effects that add to the ghostly ambience.

Although A Christmas Carol isn’t a new story in any way shape or form, Goblin Theatre have found a way to excite audiences and get them feeling festive in these fancy surroundings. If you’re feeling Bah Humbug vibes this December, this will help you gain a bit of Christmas cheer.

Runs until 30 December 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Hauntingly Beautiful

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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