A Christmas Carol Review – LondonTheatre1.com

If you are looking for a festive treat, Antic Disposition’s A Christmas Carol has to be your first choice.

Verdict: ★★★★★

Charles Dickens is one of the most influential figures in English literature. A Christmas Carol was first published in December 1843, since then it has been re-written, re-imagined and re-told countless times including live action films, animation, theatre and even with muppets. A Christmas Carol is so synonymous with Christmas, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without it.

The latest version of A Christmas Carol to be added to the list is a new musical version by Antic Disposition, currently showing at Middle Temple Hall. Middle Temple Hall is an iconic building in the East End of London, steeped in history and has its own famous links to English literature. This really is the perfect venue for staging this particular show. Adapted from the original, this new take on the classic is inventive but stays true to the essence of the story.

Scrooge’s journey from miserable old miser to joyous and generous is simple in its execution but highly effective and totally captivating. The story progresses with a steady pace and builds nicely to the famous happy ending that everybody so eagerly awaits, with the all important quote from Tiny Tim.

David Burt plays the central character, Ebenezer Scrooge, even the name itself is famous and has been absorbed into the English language. Burt’s characterisation of Scrooge is extremely well-rounded and fully realised from the very start of the performance. Burt delivers a nuance filled performance, even down to the nonsensical groaning and mumbling in between his dialogue.

Paul Tonkin in the role of Bob Cratchit is a pleasure to watch, his sensitive portrayal of this lowly, put upon worker is genuine and thoughtful. Tonkin plays a variety of characters, however, he slips seamlessly back into the role of Cratchit when necessary. No matter what role he is playing, the one factor that Tonkin does not lose is his sensational singing voice. This is clearly an actor with a great deal of talent and performance experience.

The entire cast, whilst being small in number, are extremely talented and perform with perfect engagement with one another as well as the audience. If the cast of a show are not enjoying themselves, working well as an ensemble or engaging with their audience the show will not deliver on any level. This is most certainly not the case with this wonderful production, the cast have clearly worked immensely hard to produce this highly polished and slick performance.

Whether it was an artistic decision or purely based on practicalities, the use of props and set are both minimal and thankfully so. The lack of extraneous aids enable the actors to be completely free in the performance space and also allows the audience to engage their imagination and focus entirely on the performance. The blend of recorded and live music is highly effective in creating the perfect score for the performers and a magic ambience for the audience. Middle Temple Hall is a vast and rather grand space, which only adds to the atmosphere the cast and crew work so hard to create.

If you are looking for a theatrical festive treat, Antic Dispositions’ A Christmas Carol has to be your first choice, book your tickets now and you will not be disappointed.

By Haydn James for LondonTheatre1.com