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A Christmas Carol – Waterloo East Theatre, London

Writer: Charles Dickens

Adapted and performed by: Dominic Gerrard

Director: Tim Carroll

Reviewer: Lizzie Kirkwood

[rating:2]

In this one-man adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’, directed by Tim Carroll, who is currently directing Mark Rylance in Richard III and Twelfth Night in the West End, Dominic Gerrard tells us the familiar story of Scrooge, visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve and taught the error of his miserly ways.

Scrooge is characterised in this production by a frankly terrifying human-sized puppet that bares an uncanny resemblance to Voldemort in the film adaptations of Harry Potter. Gerrard is clearly a highly skilled puppeteer, and the puppet’s movements are astonishingly lifelike.

The problem with this show lies in the fact that the adaptation is terribly faithful to the original text, which leaves Gerrard confined to the rôle of narrator for the majority of the show. Therefore, as Gerrard predominantly takes on the rôles of narrator or Scrooge, the action is described to the audience by observers, as opposed to being played out on stage, which is often the joy of one-man shows. In this production, the narrator describes what Scrooge is witnessing and the puppet responds. As a result (for the most part) the audience is told what is happening, as opposed to watching the action. Most of the scenes are not in fact dramatised and the audience is called upon to imagine what Scrooge is witnessing.

This would, naturally, not be a problem if the piece were a radio play, but as it is not, the audience is left with little to watch. The most successful moments in the production are undoubtedly when Gerrard plays a host of different characters and enacts dialogue. The delivery of long sections of narration make the piece seem far more suited to the radio.

Gerrard is clearly a skilled performer and a talented voice artist, but as he makes little if any attempt to differentiate physically between different characters, he has to work harder to keep the audience’s attention.

A well-crafted show, but one best suited to the radio.

Runs until 29th December

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