Adaptation: Tom Morris
Director: Lee Lyford
Designer: Tom Rogers
Music/lyrics: Gwyneth Herbert
Reviewer: Julia Beasley
Could this be the perfect antidote to even the most grudging grinches at yuletide? Bristol Old Vic’s steampunk musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ festive tale has a raucous vibe that will surely banish the Christmas blues.
Curmudgeonly money-lender Ebenezer Scrooge runs a bleak house on Christmas Eve, until he receives a visit from the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley. Before the night is through, he also gets visitations from the spirits of Christmases past, present and future.
They reveal chilling insights of his own sad life and destiny, the missed opportunities and lost loves. Scrooge learns to open his heart and engage his imagination, only to discover that generosity is the key to human happiness.
Felix Hayes is magnificent as the peevish miser who is ‘lonely as an oyster’ and lives amongst the undead ‘likes a beetle in a box’. Crystal Condie as former girlfriend Belle, and Beau Holland as his younger sister Little Fan are superb members of the electrifying chorus. Watch out too for Nadia Nadarajah as Bob Cratchit, the oppressed employee whose sign language eventually penetrates Scrooge’s carapace and melts his heart.
In this beautifully staged production, a skeletal set provides a gloomy gothic backdrop. The action and costumes mirror Scrooge’s movement from spiritual monochrome darkness to Technicolor joy.
It’s also very funny: expect visual jokes, audience participation, singing, and clapping. At Bristol’s remodeled Old Vic, the classic Dickensian morality tale about the triumph of compassion has been turned into modern-day family entertainment with a political conscience and big, big heart.
Runs until 19 January 2018 | Image: Geraint Lewis