A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is the all-time favourite Christmas story. It has been staged, filmed, and reproduced hundreds of times over the last two centuries. Yet, this new version of A Christmas Carol, written by Piers Torday and directed by Stephanie Street at Wilton’s Music Hall, is very modern, relevant, and moving. If you were to choose one festive show to see this year, I would recommend this production.
This show closely follows the Dicken’s plot about a rich and greedy businessman who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The major difference, however, is that the lead character in Wilton’s adaptation of the story is not a man, but a woman, Fan Marley (nee Scrooge). The widow, she takes over the business of Jacob Marley after his death and turns into a sharp and indifferent loaner. On Christmas Eve, she gets a chance to revisit the moments in her past, see the impact of her actions in the present, and act to change the scary visions of the future.
The female perspective makes the play very resonant with current socio-political trends. While the characters of the play do not directly speak about women’s rights and emancipation, Fan is ultimately determined to become a strong and independent woman. She considers herself a good role model for others. When the spirits fail to change her mind and soften her heart, they come up with a new plan and take Fan to our days. She sees the image of a modern woman, who follows her principals and yet fails to become empowered. Instead, the modern business-woman feels stressed, pressured, and tired. It makes Fan realise the real values of things and find ways to direct her ambitions to the right cause.
The actors do great work. There are only 7 people in the cast, and they manage to undertake amazing transformations to represent almost two dozen characters. The only person who keeps her role is Sally Dexter, the lead of this show. Her performance is vibrant and energetic, you believe her every second. An amazing job is also done by Edward Harrison and Yana Penrose. Overall, the cast is incredibly good and you want to share their joy and sorrow in every scene.
Impressive costumes and great puppet-work also deserve praise. The Ghost of Christmas Present was represented by a 2-meter high ghostly figure, and Charles Dickens himself turned into an old wise cat. The stage design was efficient and impressive, overall the production is top-notch.
Whether you are a big fan of the classic Dicken’s story or you are looking for a good festive show to enjoy with your friends or family this December, head to Wilton’s Music Hall to catch their A Christmas Carol.