The Coronet is the perfect venue to recreate the Victorian/Dickensian world of A Christmas Carol (1843). Itself a product of the Victorian age (built 1898) to enter The Coronet is to travel back in time. The architectural features are as they were over a hundred years ago. The lighting, fixtures and furniture are authentically Victorian. The set features a lectern, books and armchair much as Dickens himself used when giving his famous readings. Indeed hanging just above the lectern is a framed portrait photograph of Dickens. And onto this wonderfully atmospheric setting steps Clive Francis book in hand to make the reading analogy explicit, dressed every inch the Victorian gentleman, in a cravat, waistcoat, jacket and gold-tipped walking cane. We do not have any recordings of Dickens reading but in Clive Francis, we have the next best thing. He is spellbinding. He singlehandedly recreates an entire Dickens novel. By turns gripping, mesmerising, haunting and very moving he manages in 70 enthralling minutes to construct a whimsical kind of masque.
“He Do the Police in Different Voices” and so does Clive Francis do each character (Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Mrs Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, The Three Spirits past present and future, Fezziwig, Scrooge’s nephew, Ignorance and Want, Mrs Dilber, to name a few) in different voices. He begins with the stern tone of the narrator “Marley was dead: to begin with.” and strikes the book in his hand to emphasise the finality of the event. “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail“. Clive marks the switch from narrator to Scrooge by a quick soft-shoe shuffle and change of body posture as he hits the right note of sneering disdain. “Bah Humbug“. He walks back and forth from the lectern to his armchair lifting up and putting down his cane as he does so. Like a solitary Beckett character on stage he makes us believe in whatever scene he conjures up, whether its Scrooge on his own in his house, or with Bob Cratchit in the office, or watching scenes from past, present and future with the spirit of Christmas, Clive does it all so convincingly that we willingly suspend our disbelief. The spotlight focuses on Clive at moments of dramatic intensity. Bells chime, floorboards and doors creak. It’s a marvellous achievement. In the setting of the Coronet and with a portrait of the great man himself hovering all the while just over Clive’s head it’s the nearest any of us will get to experiencing Dickens himself read A Christmas Carol.
Review by John O’Brien
After selling out in 2014, Clive Francis returns to the Print Room at the Coronet with his highly acclaimed performance as the misanthropic Ebenezer Scrooge, bringing with him a host of Dickensian characters from the spectral Jacob Marley to Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
A veteran of over 20 West End plays and a 100 television and film performances, the most recent being as Lord Salisbury in The Crown, Clive Francis was first introduced to A Christmas Carol back in the late 90s when he played Ebenezer Scrooge for the RSC, which he then went on to adapt into a one-man show. In Clive’s words ‘Once played, never forgotten. Once you have trod the “path of jagged flints and stones laid down by Scrooge’s brutal ignorance”, it’s hard to get the old boy out of your head’.
12 – 14 December 7pm
PRINT ROOM AT THE CORONET
103 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3LB