Jack Thorne, the playwright with the magic touch, re-works A Christmas Carol for an absorbing and atmospheric new show. The oft-adapted novel feels shorter and snappier, without losing the distinctly Victorian exhuberance of Charles Dickens' prose. Director Matthew Warchus maintains a fine balance between comedy and morality, evoking such an iresistible atmosphere that even those (like us) who know the story far too well will be newly entranced.
Artfully-harmonized carols punctuate the story, as a chorus of narrators in top hats and tails introduce the cantankerous Scrooge and his dead business partner, Jacob Marley.
Stephen Tompkinson (Ebenezer Scrooge) and Nicola Hughes (Ghost of Christmas Present) at A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan.
Rhys Ifans delighted audiences as everyone's favourite miser last year, but stage and screen star Stephen Tompkinson (Chancer, Drop the Dead Donkey, and Cloaca at The Old Vic) does, too. There's a poignant self-awareness to his Ebenezer Scrooge that makes you pity the scorned man. With his thinning, straggly grey hair and a thread-bare frock coat, he lurks in the counting house, haunted by ghosts of Christmasses past, present and future.
Tompkinson brings a softness to the the old crank, but that doesn't stop him spitting out every single plosive with a shower of saliva (beware, those on the front row). It remains a complex portrait of cold-heartedness, that garners plenty of laughs without undermining Scrooge's emotional scars.
It's a fitting message, and one that is likely to leave even 21st century Scrooges with a tear in the eye. Take all the family to remind them that Christmas cheer and goodwill go far deeper than the John Lewis advert.
Recommended for ages 11+
Booking for A Christmas Carol is open. Click here for tickets.
|What||Review: A Christmas Carol, Old Vic Theatre|
|Where||The Old Vic, The Cut, London, SE1 8NB | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
27 Nov 18 – 19 Jan 19, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book now|