Christmas spirit burns brightly in new show

A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol.

London fog ghosts around the audience’s ankles as a chorus of grimy impoverished children swirl among the audience’s tables with a story of cold charity to open Evolution Theatre’s excellent production of A Christmas Carol.

Victorian author Charles Dickens’ theme of inequality is established early in this stage adaptation — but there is magic in this show’s art and it’s hard not to grin like a loon at it.

Fraser Grout’s misery guts, Ebenezer Scrooge, sits at his ledger in his office while a chorus of children sings outside his window. Then the action shifts from mini-set to mini-set around the theatre. Turning in your seat to watch one seamless scene after another is required — but it’s a joy to be drawn into each surprise.

After begrudgingly allowing his underpaid, overworked employee Bob Cratchitt (Dave Henderson) to join his family to celebrate Christmas Day, Scrooge is visited in his cold bedroom by the wild-haired ghost of Marley. Played by Simon Marino with heart-felt misery at his eternal restlessness, Marley represents deep regret at valuing profit before “common welfare. . .charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence”.

One by one Scrooge is visited by three other spirits. Suzan Anderson’s sepulchral Ghost of Christmas Past, Wendy Dewstow as the celebratory Ghost of Christmas Present and Anderson as the grave Ghost of Christmas Future transport the miser to locations that range from a merry party to a grim street.

Dickens underlines the social injustice beneath Britain’s industrial revolution but lays on the melodrama as the story swings from the sentimental and sensuous to the wretched as Scrooge’s isolation deepens before he lightens his heart.

Director Dinna Myers’ inclusion of narrator-actors who, in the tradition of the Greek chorus, both describe and play out the work’s themes is a masterly touch. The show also defies the theatrical tenet of “never work with children”. A Christmas Carol’s child actors are naturals.

Poignancy and joy mix together like an old-fashioned Christmas pud in Myers’ production. It’s dark, it’s rich, it’s fruity; dotted with silver and topped with the blue fire of burning brandy for wonder.

This is a must-see show. Support the company, support actors we know from various productions, and welcome new faces. You’ll leave with more than you went with but feel lighter for it.

London fog ghosts around the audience’s ankles as a chorus of grimy impoverished children swirl among the audience’s tables with a story of cold charity to open Evolution Theatre’s excellent production of A Christmas Carol.

Victorian author Charles Dickens’ theme of inequality is established early in this stage adaptation — but there is magic in this show’s art and it’s hard not to grin like a loon at it.

Fraser Grout’s misery guts, Ebenezer Scrooge, sits at his ledger in his office while a chorus of children sings outside his window. Then the action shifts from mini-set to mini-set around the theatre. Turning in your seat to watch one seamless scene after another is required — but it’s a joy to be drawn into each surprise.

After begrudgingly allowing his underpaid, overworked employee Bob Cratchitt (Dave Henderson) to join his family to celebrate Christmas Day, Scrooge is visited in his cold bedroom by the wild-haired ghost of Marley. Played by Simon Marino with heart-felt misery at his eternal restlessness, Marley represents deep regret at valuing profit before “common welfare. . .charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence”.

One by one Scrooge is visited by three other spirits. Suzan Anderson’s sepulchral Ghost of Christmas Past, Wendy Dewstow as the celebratory Ghost of Christmas Present and Anderson as the grave Ghost of Christmas Future transport the miser to locations that range from a merry party to a grim street.

Dickens underlines the social injustice beneath Britain’s industrial revolution but lays on the melodrama as the story swings from the sentimental and sensuous to the wretched as Scrooge’s isolation deepens before he lightens his heart.

Director Dinna Myers’ inclusion of narrator-actors who, in the tradition of the Greek chorus, both describe and play out the work’s themes is a masterly touch. The show also defies the theatrical tenet of “never work with children”. A Christmas Carol’s child actors are naturals.

Poignancy and joy mix together like an old-fashioned Christmas pud in Myers’ production. It’s dark, it’s rich, it’s fruity; dotted with silver and topped with the blue fire of burning brandy for wonder.

This is a must-see show. Support the company, support actors we know from various productions, and welcome new faces. You’ll leave with more than you went with but feel lighter for it.

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Paul McLaughlin, Wellington - 8 days ago
A great review of what sounds like an excellent theatrical yuletide treat. Go well guys!

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