Mature Times reviews A Christmas Carol at Bristol Old Vic – a festive reminder to be a little kinder
In true Bristol Old Vic style, this clever, vibrant, entertaining and thought-provoking theatre experience is a feast for the imagination and a reminder of the important things in life.
Artistic Director Tom Morris (The Grinning Man, Swallows & Amazons) joins forces with Director, Lee Lyford and Composer, Gwyneth Herbert (The Snow Queen) to present another festive classic – an enchanting new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale, A Christmas Carol.
The turkeys are hanging in St Nick’s butchers shop, the Christmas Steps are decked with holly, but Christmas Eve is a bleak night for miserly money-lender Ebenezer Scrooge. Before the night is through, he is visited by four ghosts who show him chilling portraits of his past, present and future.
As the sun rises, he comes to see the bitter truth of his selfish life; learning kindness, compassion and, ultimately, the true meaning of Christmas.
The cast are a tight and well-polished team, delivering a faultless performance and doing wonderful justice to the script and score. The show is also enriched by the use of British Sign Language (BSL) that is cleverly woven through it. Nadia Nadarajah joins Bristol Old Vic for the first time in the role of Bob Cratchitt. Nadia is an actor who uses BSL and is a passionate advocate for the full integration of BSL into performance, not just as a tool for access.
As always at the Old Vic, the set and ingenious use of props sew the show together seamlessly; every person, prop and piece of furniture on the stage has a purpose, and sometimes many. From inventive paper puppetry to audience participation décor construction, it is a visual feast. Designer Tom Rogers had aimed to: ‘present something that has a resonance with a contemporary audience, whilst staying true to the language and heart of the original Dickens’ story’ – they do just that, and more.
If you haven’t yet visited Bristol Old Vic since its redevelopment, then do so soon; the stage has been brought forward, providing a consuming experience that enhances any performance and the modern, glass foyer with its multiple levels intriguingly dipping in and out of view is a wonder in itself.
The show is advertised as suitable for age 7+, and while there is much about it that is fun and family friendly, there is also some dark and spooky imagery that some younger children might find a bit frightening.
The story of A Christmas Carol is as relevant and powerful today as it was in 1843; with themes of rising poverty, homelessness and social division, this energetic adaptation of Dickens’ 19th century novel can’t help but, sadly, still ring true in the 21st century. As director, Lee Lyford, put it, this timeless story is: ‘something to remind as at this busy time of year that the world could be a little kinder and in this, we all have an important part to play.’
So as both a fun, festive night out and a chance for some seasonal reflection on the bigger picture, this is a must-see.
A Christmas Carol at Bristol Old Vic runs from Thursday 29 November, 2018 to Sunday 13 January, 2019. To book tickets, visit: https://bristololdvic.org.uk/whats-on/a-christmas-carol or call the Box Office on: 0117 987 7877.