Middle Temple Hall allows an audience to step back in time and enter into the world of Scrooge with its site-specific stage space. Stepping away from the city’s busy streets, the theatre offers a calm serenity and a chance to embrace a time of hopefulness in 17th Century London.
Award-winning company Antic Disposition’s choice of theatre has a direct link to Charles Dickens himself. While a full-time student studying Law at Middle Temple, the author wrote A Christmas Carol in just six weeks. The location is also featured in many of his stories, indicating that he held quite an emotional bond with the residence. The building was also a familiar to venue to Shakespeare – the first recorded performance of his masterful comedy Twelfth Night took place there.
Dickens’ novella is brought to the stage by directors Ben Horslen and John Risebero, while the music – which includes the most classic of Christmas carols – is moulded by composer Christopher Peake. As designer, Risebero adds a minimalistic approach, subtly bringing the performance together.
David Burt takes on the misery of Ebenezer Scrooge, exuding humbug and gloom towards the festive season. His captivating character unfolds as we see him step back with The Ghost of Christmas Past to his childhood and we begin to see why he is such a wretched character.
While watching Scrooge’s journey to past, present and future, the piece encourages us to feel an empathy for this anti-hero and an understanding as to why he is the way he is. Burt masters this perfectly.
David Hunter gives a sweet performance as Bob Cratchit. His caring and humbling nature is displayed in his love for his children and care for Tiny Tim.
The Christmas carols are performed flawlessly by the ensemble, with Kerry Loosemore, Katie Lovell, Alex Hooper, Victoria Hope, Dean Riley and Andrea Sadler all leaving an impression. The younger cast members include Harley Gallacher and Leo Mann (Tiny Tim) and Miles Roughley and Archie Stevens who alternate as ‘Turkey Boy’.
The performance space allows members of the audience to feel involved, especially when Scrooge stands directly in front of them, taking in his Christmas past. The lighting (Tom Boucher) adds to the the eerie atmosphere as the ghosts come to life.
It is a great tradition to revisit Christmas tales during the festive period and each story helps to show what the season is all about. A Christmas Carol reminds us of our moral obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves, to be compassionate and giving, and not just at this time of year. Valuing family, friendship and love heeds the Christmas message of hope and joy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
by Molly Kerrigan, 29 December 2015