Innovative show is delightful early gift
A Christmas Carol New Victoria Theatre, Basford
"CHRISTMAS," says Ebenezer Scrooge, "is a time for buying goods and running up debts." If he was around now he'd be genuinely delighted at the collapse of Comet.
When it comes to the festive season, literature's most famous miser would rather slam the door shut and forget about it. No question in his house over who's going to carve the sprout.
"I like darkness," he says. "Darkness is cheap." It sounds mean but who amongst us won't be saying the same thing when the power companies put up the bills next year? Scrooge, it's fair to say, needs teaching a lesson. If he wants to be this miserable, fine.
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But doesn't he realise the joy he could spread if he unshackled the purse-strings (Dickens showed great prescience in writing a metaphor for the Coalition).
You do have a bit of sympathy with him on his journey to redemption. No-one wants to be taken through a succession of Christmases past. I'd hate to be revisit that one where Aunt Mabel lost her teeth in the stuffing.
Remarkably, Scrooge's change of character is brought about through an unexpectedly lively bedroom life. Like Danny Boyle with the Olympics, director Theresa Heskins has seen that a bed can be a star of a show (smoking chimneys are similarly reminiscent of the opening ceremony, although London 2012 was rather more munificent with the gold).
This item, soon to be available at all good furniture stores, has a habit of throwing up ghosts and ghouls. Early on, Ebenezer's former business partner Jacob Marley emerges wrapped in chains. Barely has Scrooge recovered from the shock when another spectre pops up to begin his journey through Christmases past, present, and future.
It's giving nothing away to say that Dickens's story is one of redemption.
But A Christmas Carol takes a winding journey to Scrooge's personal revelation and it should be noted there are a couple of fairly bleak cul-de-sacs along the way. My note-taking was at times severely restricted by the frightened six-year-old on my knee. However, if all were death and despair it would be a rather strange Christmas show. This isn't Emmerdale, it's Newcastle-under-Lyme. Episodes of unpleasantness are offset by festive numbers, musical accompaniment, and dancing. Don't confuse it with a Yuletide Top Of The Pops. Mud's Lonely This Christmas is notably absent.
Innovation and invention are the trademarks of the New Vic's Christmas production, and this won't disappoint. More importantly, it confirms that all past misdemeanours can be erased with a big turkey.
A Christmas Carol runs until Saturday, January 19. For tickets call the box office on 01782 717962.