It’s a story as old as time – Dickensian times that is.
There have been more than 250 stage and film adaptations of A Christmas Carol over the years. This year the perennial favourite returns to the RSC following huge acclaim in 2017 and 2018.
Far from feeling tired, this reworked festive tale proves once again to be a beautifully packaged Christmas gift that keeps on giving, in no small part due to its new leading man.
While making this incarnation of the role his own, Adrian Edmondson effortlessly captures the miserly malevolence of Ebeneezer Scrooge as he takes a captive and scintillated audience on his own, now well-trodden, journey of redemption.
He’s forgiven (and even thanked) for those rye comedic nods to his Young Ones alter ego Vyvyan which many will better know him for. (Or is that just me?)
Rebecca Lacey and Sunetra Sarker, pictured below, excel as The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present – but nothing quite prepares you for the chilling appearance of the fourth Ghost that prompts gasps around the theatre.
A young Charles Dickens himself becomes part of the story here, cleverly weaving his narrative into the scenes by voicing lines or becoming different characters or even props.
One can’t help but be struck by the contemporary resonance of the play and its palpable themes of class divide but David Edgar’s faithful adaptation manages to keep this familiar 19th-century tale as fresh as possible on an RSC stage that makes you feel like you’re part of the story – a story that Dickens pledged to ‘echo through time’ and is, sadly, as chillingly pertinent as ever.
A shout out to a talented ensemble cast as well as the staging and tech crew who have surpassed themselves with mind-boggling and breath-taking effects and illusions which serve to further elevate this already exceptional production.
Director Rachel Kavanaugh keeps the story moving at a pace and adds a cheery sprinkling of song and dance that contributes to the festive feel of the piece and this iconic Christmas favourite, while not straying from the original text, feels sufficiently fresh and new. Catch it if you can.
A Christmas Carol runs at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford until January 1st. Further information and ticket enquiries are available here: https://www.rsc.org.uk/