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A Christmas Carol at Birmingham Rep

WHEN I reviewed Pride and Prejudice a few weeks ago, I nailed my colours to the mast and confessed that I was more of a Dickens fan.

WHEN I reviewed Pride and Prejudice a few weeks ago, I nailed my colours to the mast and confessed that I was more of a Dickens fan.

Imagine my delight at getting chance to see one of the author’s best-loved tales performed at the same venue. But did it meet my expectations?

I’m pleased to say that this felt a very faithful adaptation - with much of the dialogue lifted straight from the pages of the novel.

The main, and highly effective, addition was the group of grey spirits who loomed over proceedings.

This parliament of ghosts - apparently drawn from all periods of human history - are the group who work to redeem Scrooge (wonderfully played by Peter Polycarpou).

They stalk unseen through the scenes, shaping the man’s ordeal - although their presence is a bit confusing in some of the crowd scenes.

Overall this is quite a spooky telling - from the foggy street where the story begins to the apparitions which come to haunt our miserly protagonist.

My favourite scenes were those between Scrooge and the phantoms - who were each very different, but exactly as the book describes them.

From a chain-wrapped ghoul ( Jacob Marley) to a cowled Angel of Death (Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come), the spectres were superbly realised.

Less effective, to my mind, were the musical segments. I’m sure they sat well with the younger members of the audience, but too many of these interludes felt a bit like padding and did jar slightly with the darker moments.

Nonetheless, with its dramatic scenery and explosive effects, this was a cracking rendition.

 

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