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5 star review of A Christmas Carol at Middle Temple Hall

a christmas carol

Charles Dickens is one of the most influential figures in English literature. A Christmas Carol was first published in December 1843, since then it has been re-written, re-imagined and re-told countless times including live action films, animation, theatre and even with muppets. A Christmas Carol is so synonymous with Christmas, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without it.

The latest version of A Christmas Carol to be added to the list is a new musical version by Antic Disposition, currently showing at Middle Temple Hall. Middle Temple Hall is an iconic building in the East End of London, steeped in history and has its own famous links to English literature. This really is the perfect venue for staging this particular show. Adapted from the original, this new take on the classic is inventive but stays true to the essence of the story.

Scrooge’s journey from miserable old miser to joyous and generous is simple in its execution but highly effective and totally captivating. The story progresses with a steady pace and builds nicely to the famous happy ending that everybody so eagerly awaits, with the all important quote from Tiny Tim.

David Burt plays the central character, Ebenezer Scrooge, even the name itself is famous and has been absorbed into the English language. Burt’s characterisation of Scrooge is extremely well-rounded and fully realised from the very start of the performance. Burt delivers a nuance filled performance, even down to the nonsensical groaning and mumbling in between his dialogue.

Paul Tonkin in the role of Bob Cratchit is a pleasure to watch, his sensitive portrayal of this lowly, put upon worker is genuine and thoughtful. Tonkin plays a variety of characters, however, he slips seamlessly back into the role of Cratchit when necessary. No matter what role he is playing, the one factor that Tonkin does not lose is his sensational singing voice. This is clearly an actor with a great deal of talent and performance experience.

The entire cast, whilst being small in number, are extremely talented and perform with perfect engagement with one another as well as the audience. If the cast of a show are not enjoying themselves, working well as an ensemble or engaging with their audience the show will not deliver on any level. This is most certainly not the case with this wonderful production, the cast have clearly worked immensely hard to produce this highly polished and slick performance.

Whether it was an artistic decision or purely based on practicalities, the use of props and set are both minimal and thankfully so. The lack of extraneous aids enable the actors to be completely free in the performance space and also allows the audience to engage their imagination and focus entirely on the performance. The blend of recorded and live music is highly effective in creating the perfect score for the performers and a magic ambience for the audience. Middle Temple Hall is a vast and rather grand space, which only adds to the atmosphere the cast and crew work so hard to create.

If you are looking for a theatrical festive treat, Antic Dispositions’ A Christmas Carol has to be your first choice, book your tickets now and you will not be disappointed.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

5 Star Rating

Review by Haydn James

A Christmas Carol
The musical adaptation combines Dickens’ ghostly tale with a score of original songs inspired by the carols of a traditional Victorian Christmas. The historic Hall will be decked for the occasion with boughs of holly, and mulled wine, mince pies and other traditional festive fare will be available to add to the Yuletide spirit.

A Christmas Carol will be Antic Disposition’s fourth visit to Middle Temple Hall, following recent sell-out productions of The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the premiere of A Christmas Carol in 2012.

Founded by director Ben Horslen and designer John Risebero in 2005, Antic Disposition has earned much acclaim for its high quality, visually striking productions of classic plays and stories, which are often presented in spectacular historic locations and non-theatre spaces.

Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol has a book and lyrics by Ben Horslen and John Risebero, and music by Christopher Peake. A Christmas Carol is directed by Ben Horslen and John Risebero, who also designs, with musical direction by Nick Barstow and Carole Carpenter and musical supervision by Christopher Peake.
Photographer: Scott Rylander

Olivier-nominated West End actor David Burt to star as Scrooge in the musical A Christmas Carol staged in historic Middle Temple Hall

West End star David Burt has been cast as Scrooge in Antic Disposition’s magical, musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ festive classic, A Christmas Carol, which returns to the spectacular Elizabethan setting of Middle Temple Hall in central London from Saturday 20 – Tuesday 30 December, following a sell-out run in 2012.
Press night is Monday 22 December at 7.30pm
On Christmas Eve, the miser Ebenezer Scrooge is haunted by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley. To help Scrooge avoid the ghastly fate that awaits beyond the grave, Marley arranges for him to be visited by three spirits. But can the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come persuade Scrooge to open his heart to the magic of Christmas before the sun rises?
David Burt is one of the West End’s most respected and in-demand leading men. He has appeared in dozens of notable West End productions, including playing Enjolras in the original cast of Les Misérables, Magaldi in the original cast of Evita, Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar and Count Fosco in The Woman in White. David’s other credits include Cats, Chess, The Far Pavilions, Closer to Heaven, Taboo and Kiss Me, Kate, as well as seasons at the National Theatre and RSC. He was nominated for a Best Actor Olivier Award for his performance as Macheath in the RSC’s The Beggar’s Opera.

Presented by award-winning theatre company Antic Disposition, A Christmas Carol is once again being performed in the highly atmospheric 16th-century Middle Temple Hall, a location well known to Dickens himself, who studied law at the ancient institution. Located in the secluded heart of London’s legal quarter between Fleet Street and the River Thames, Middle Temple Hall was completed in 1573 and remains virtually unchanged to this day. With its narrow, cobbled alleyways and shady, gas-lit courtyards, a visit to the Middle Temple is a journey into the London that Dickens himself knew, creating the perfect backdrop for this celebration of his much-loved Christmas classic.

The musical adaptation combines Dickens’ ghostly tale with a score of original songs inspired by the carols of a traditional Victorian Christmas. The historic Hall will be decked for the occasion with boughs of holly, and mulled wine, mince pies and other traditional festive fare will be available to add to the Yuletide spirit.

A Christmas Carol will be Antic Disposition’s fourth visit to Middle Temple Hall, following recent sell-out productions of The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the premiere of A Christmas Carol in 2012.

Founded by director Ben Horslen and designer John Risebero in 2005, Antic Disposition has earned much acclaim for its high quality, visually striking productions of classic plays and stories, which are often presented in spectacular historic locations and non-theatre spaces.

Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol has a book and lyrics by Ben Horslen and John Risebero, and music by Christopher Peake. A Christmas Carol is directed by Ben Horslen and John Risebero, who also designs, with musical direction by Nick Barstow and Carole Carpenter and musical supervision by Christopher Peake.

LISTINGS INFO
Antic Disposition presents
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by Charles Dickens
Book and Lyrics by Ben Horslen and John Risebero
Music by Christopher Peake

Saturday 20 – Tuesday 30 December
at 3.00pm and 7.30pm
3.00pm only on 24 December
No performances on 25 or 26 December

Middle Temple Hall
Middle Temple Lane,
London EC4Y 9AT

Nearest Tube: Temple or Blackfriars

Box Office: 0333 666 3366
Book online at: www.anticdisposition.co.uk

Tickets: £30 (Under 18s £20)
Premium Tickets: £40 (Under 18s £30)
Early Bird Tickets: £20

Tuesday 23rd December 2014

Author

  • Haydn James

    Haydn trained as an actor at Rose Bruford Drama School. He has worked nationally and internationally in theatre and as an actor and entertainer in some of London’s top tourist attractions. He is now training to be a drama and performing arts lecturer. Haydn has always had a passion and love for the theatre and enjoys watching as much theatre as possible. Follow on Twitter @HaydnJames82

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