Director: Graham McLaren
Writer: Charles Dickens
Reviewer: Amy Taylor
Following their success with the show in 2011, the National Theatre of Scotland make their mark on the festive season once more with the return of their award-winning adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Directed and adapted by Graham McLaren, this unforgettable, and truly delightful piece fuses puppetry, high-energy, storytelling, music and a bit of ghostly goings on to create one of the NTS’ strongest pieces to date.
Perhaps Dickens’ most famous work, the NTS’ A Christmas Carol follows the familiar tale of the beastly and selfish miser, Ebenezer Scrooge (Benny Young) as he is forced to confront the error of his ways when he is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, who force him to look at himself and his life in an effort to change his wicked ways.
Premièring at Govan Town Hall last December, the show promptly sold out, and high demand led to the adding of extra dates. This second production thankfully bears all the strengths that made its initial run so popular. McLaren’s adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale of greed, loss, redemption and charity, is, without a doubt, one of the best adaptations of this story to grace Scotland’s stage. Rejecting unnecessary sentimentality, this production’s strength lies in its ability to mix the light with the dark, the comedy with the tragedy, and perhaps most importantly, the actors with the puppets. While A Christmas Carol is perhaps one of the most well-known festive fables due to its ideals of redemption, many of us are overly familiar with the moral message that lies at the heart of this piece. However, McLaren’s adaptation manages to not only bring new power to Dickens’ themes of greed and poverty, but also make this piece, with its antique Victorian more relevant now than perhaps it ever has been. In our time of so-called austerity, where unemployment, poverty and discrimination against those less fortunate are abundant, this magical, inimitable piece of theatre brings hope and heart to all those that watch it. Expertly performed by a united and talented cast, helped of course, by a number of wonderful puppets and music by Jon Beales, this show will not only appeal to children, but adults alike with its simple and powerful scenes of loss, tragedy and regret. McLaren’s A Christmas Carol, will, like the book that inspired it, become a classic production for the festive season on the Scottish stage, and perhaps even, beyond.