Bah, humbug!

Yesterday, I finally (despite what the title of this post might suggest) got into the Christmas spirit by watching (or rather marvelling at) the legend Jim Broadbent on stage in A Christmas Carol.

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A Christmas Carol is a well known and beloved novella by Charles Dickens, which has been adapted for stage and screen on numerous occasions. The latest version, a West End stage production, stars Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning actor Jim Broadbent in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.

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This story of the bitter, unforgiving and money-obsessed Scrooge and his transformation into a kinder, less self-involved individual was adapted by Patrick Barlow and is performed by a seven person, multi-role playing cast. A quirky production, it has more of a pantomime feel at times than a serious stage play, but that is no bad thing. Staged in an evocative, quaint Victorian theater, there are moments of pure hilarity: two bowler-hatted stagehands throw handfuls of snow over unsuspecting customers, Scrooge’s clerk Bob Cratchit winds a cardboard grammar phone prop which exudes Christmas tunes to offer the air of jollity to visitors (in order to convince the unsuspecting clients to take out a compound interest loan for the benefit of Scrooge), and a jovial dance routine performed by a exuberant Fezziwig all add to the feeling of festivity. Despite these comedic inclusions, the play does retain some of Dickens’ more serious themes, including death and greed.

Jim Broadbent’s performance was magical. He conveyed Scrooge’s acrimonious character with prowess, but particularly excelled when it came to comic effect: he truly captivated the audience and had them in the palm of his hand.

All told, this is a surprising and slightly peculiar – in the best possible way – rendition of the classic story, with themes of lost love, family and humanity, juxtaposed against echoes of modern day loan sharks, banking bonuses and austerity. Traditionalists may yell ‘bah, humbug!’, but the fresh twist provided just the right amount of Christmas cheer and merriment.

A Christmas Carol runs until January 30, 2016 at the Noel Coward Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here.

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This review can also be found on MuggleNet.com.

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