scrooge head

Christmas Carol

Malvern Theatres

****

DICKENS’ famous novella, A Christmas Carol, has arrived in Malvern full of belated seasonal charm and innocence.

This simple moral tale about Ebenezer Scrooge is revived with musical and visual colour and runs till the end of the week. As with the pantomime in recent weeks, the show involves a number of local children to add youthful voices, enthusiasm and local interest.

The term scrooge has passed into everyday language to identify a miser and a killjoy, someone who stands aloof from the celebrations and social events surrounding Christmas or other such occasions.

Ebenezer however experiences a series of disturbing dreams that reveal the truth about himself – the ghost of his former partner Marley, and the Spirits of Christmases past, present and future expose to him how others view him, how selfish and truly miserable he is.

This results in his undergoing a thorough conversion and the joyless and niggardly miser turns into a generous and enthusiastic participant in the festivities of Christmas. As the visions fade away, he is in time for Christmas present; he is able to make changes in people’s lives for the better.

This delightful tale is brought to life with lively music and varied lighting by Creative Cow in a generally traditional interpretation. The show ran at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter over Christmas and New Year, and now runs for a week in Malvern.

A talented musical team is involved.  They sing a number of Christmas favourites , including, unaccompanied, a beautiful four-part rendering of Silent Night. The ceilidh-style jollity with violin, guitar and percussion supported singing and dancing delightfully.

The central role of Ebenezer was played by Derek Frood. He is a none-too-menacing presence who plays the role with a certain lightness and humour. He is on stage a great deal, listening to the revelations of the three Spirits but he manages to bring humour to his responses by means of facial expression, the expressive use of the eyebrows and his rich and beautiful voice. When necessary he becomes physically exuberant too!

Around him there is a cast of ensemble actors who play a variety of roles. George Jennings particularly caught the eye with a fresh sense of liveliness and energy; Edward Ferrow as Bob Cratchit is a warm and sympathetic character; Katherine Senior switches deftly from Bob’s wife to old hag and other roles. It is a talented and multi-skilled team.

The old and traditionally styled programme outlines the complexities of designing sets and costumes. The set portrays the exterior of cottages in the 19th Century with large clocks depicting key times identified in the story, which provides a solid backdrop for scenes which are then enriched by Scrooge’s bed, Cratchit’s dining table and other props. These elements combine with the skilful and varied use of dramatic lighting effects to produce an evening that runs with a good deal of pace and variety. As the show ends we are presented with a lovely and imposing Christmas tree as the cast wish us a merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

This production is a faithful and traditional interpretation of an old favourite while the local children bring a freshness and lightness to the production. This is designed to add appeal to children, so there are several matinees to enable children to access the show. Perhaps because school terms have started, there were no children in the theatre last night, but the adult audience were thoroughly charmed and enthusiastic. To 16-01-16

Tim Crow

12-01-16

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