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A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic | Review

Paterson Joseph (Scrooge) and cast of A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan.
Paterson Joseph (Scrooge) and cast of A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

‘Tis the season! And with this time of year, full of merriment and holiday cheer, comes an infamous amount of stage and screen adaptions of Charles Dickens’ classic novel – some beloved from years ago and some new. Many people will state that ‘nothing beats the classic‘ – but sometimes, newer productions can be a present that you never expected.

A Christmas Carol, arguably, is a staple to the run up to December 25th. This dark British tale of a man haunted by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, in a hope that these visits will convince him to change his cold-hearted ways, always goes down a treat. Jack Thorne’s adaptation at The Old Vic is now back for it’s third season (having also just opened this season on Broadway too!) and it proves why it keeps returning. This fresh-take is innovative, enjoyable and still has tons of Christmas spirit left in it!

Filling the shoes of Ebenezer Scrooge this year is Patterson Joseph (following from Rhys Infans and Stephen Tomkinson the years prior), whose unhinged and dismissive Scrooge is a fascinating watch. As the show progresses, we start to peel back the defences of our Scrooge to find the real him and the pay off is great. Thorne’s version focuses more on the relationship with childhood sweetheart, Belle (played by Rebecca Trehearn) more than other versions I’ve seen. The stage is set in-the-round, allowing more of our audience to get up close to the characters. There are also some developments in the second act that start to see the show almost becoming immersive in the most festive of ways!

The cast are perfectly intertwined with one another. Christmas carols are used to transition the scenes and each of our ensemble get their time to shine as they play the different people in Scrooge’s life. Our three Christmas ghosts of past, present and future are adorned in quilted costumes – each one of them bringing a new connection to Scrooge. They are not your classic ‘ghosts’ that you’ve seen in past versions.

Thorne’s adaptation uses most of the original text (with added humour) whilst Matthew Warchus’ direction, alongside Rob Howell’s set and Hugh Vanstone’s lights, breathes new life into the story. I watched, transfixed whilst all other audience members were brought together in a production they will remember every season.

This version of A Christmas Carol is near faultless. It captures the darkness and seriousness of the tale whilst adding some much appreciated humour and, sometimes, silliness! I hope it comes back for many. many years to come. It’s the perfect season treat for everyone!

5 Star Rating

Review by Tomm Ingram

Matthew Warchus’ big-hearted production of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol returns to The Old Vic, joyously adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and starring Paterson Joseph (Peep Show, Babylon) as Ebenezer Scrooge.

The cast includes: Melissa Allan, Kwêsi Edman, Hollie Edwin, Fred Haig, Nick Hart, Paterson Joseph, Andrew Langtree, Myra McFadyen, Steven Miller, Maria Omakinwa, Gloria Onitiri, James Staddon, Samuel Townsend and Rebecca Trehearn. Rayhaan Kufuor-Gray, Lara Mehmet, Lenny Rush and Eleanor Stollery share the role of Tiny Tim.

Adapted by Jack Thorne
Director Matthew Warchus
Set and Costume Rob Howell
Composer and Arranger Christopher Nightingale
Lighting Hugh Vanstone
Sound Simon Baker
Casting Jessica Ronane CDG
Movement Lizzi Gee
Musical Director Oli Jackson
Voice Coach Charlie Hughes-D’Aeth
Associate Director Joe Austin and Jamie Manton
2nd Associate Director Josh Seymour
Associate Set Ben Davies
Associate Costume Irene Bohan
Associate Lighting Sam Waddington
Associate Sound Victoria Wilkinson
Associate Movement Sam Archer
Associate Music Supervisor Will Stuart

Musicians: Oli Jackson, Justin Pearson, Martin Robertson, Clare Taylor.

A Christmas Carol
A version by Jack Thorne
Directed by Matthew Warchus
Starring Paterson Joseph

Booking to 18th January 2020


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