REVIEW: A Christmas Carol, Dukes Theatre, Lancaster

Ghosts visit Scrooge as he sleeps in a scene from A Christmas Carol.
Ghosts visit Scrooge as he sleeps in a scene from A Christmas Carol.
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NICOLA ADAM writes...Anybody who has actually read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will know it is a complicated parcel to unwrap for a festive audience, laden with layers of morality, humour and historic dark detail – so few bother to look past the basics of the ghostly storyline.

In this production writer Debbie Oates not only reinvents characters with a Lancashire twist but manages to interpret the whole story with clever dialogue, layers of meaning and comic ingenuity that not only makes this dark Dickensian tale meaningful, but also beautifully accessible to young and old alike.

Hard to believe that with just a talented six-strong cast, director Joe Sumsion manages to achieve theatre that is not only compelling in its drama but also in staging – the remarkable additions of puppetry and as my six-year-old fellow reviewer pointed out to me, ‘magic’, leave the audience enraptured.

The floating head scene is inspired, not to mention the interpretation of Tiny Tim. It is also hard to believe that there is room to fit in music and still follow a storyline –but the songs go down a treat and segue perfectly. This particular production is held in the round, meaning there is literally nowhere to hide for the cast, whose comprehensive role extends to manoeuvering bits of set around and interacting with a fascinated audience. Gareth Cassidy is the perfect Scrooge, transforming from a mean miser to a hopeless case, then becoming a joyous new man as he discovers the true meaning of Christmas.

A big Bah Humbug to you if you miss out on this one.

A Christmas Carol is at The Dukes until Saturday, January 4.