A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Adapted for the stage by John Mortimer

Directed by David Brace and produced by Rob Durrant

Click here for pictures of the production

Review in the Farnham Herald:

Spirited Players impress with this Dickens classic

It’s Christmas Eve in the counting house. Ebenezer Scrooge (Ian Wilson-Soppit), true to character, is cruel and unkind to his clerk Bob Cratchit (Tony Carpenter) and then rude to his caring nephew Fred (Oliver Pearn) before turning away a benevolent couple (Christopher Angwin and Sara Wilson-Soppit) collecting for the poor and needy.

But that night Scrooge has a life-changing dream in which he meets the ghost of his old business partner Marley (Bernard Whelan), followed by the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

Christmas Past (Maureen Collins) reminds Scrooge of his unhappy early life and the consequences of his sad preoccupation with money. Christmas Present (Ben Kennedy) takes him into Bob Cratchit’s impoverished home where he sees Bob’s son Tiny Tim, who is gravely ill but full of spirit, and then takes Scrooge on to his nephew Fred’s household to witness the Christmas cheer that that Scrooge has declined. Finally, the Spirit of Christmas Future (Linda Horlock) shows Scrooge a horrific vision of his impending death.

Scrooge awakes from his dream on Christmas morning to realise the error of his ways. He buys a huge turkey for the Cratchit family and then spends the day happily with his nephew Fred.

The cast played to a full house. Narrators (Hilary Lee-Corbin and Marion Homer) exhibited excellent voice projection and displayed good comic timing and teamwork. I thought Ian Wilson-Soppit’s performance as Scrooge was truly outstanding, and the personification of his character’s dual personality was excellently portrayed. Jo Huddleston played a most convincing inebriated headmaster.

The special effects surrounding the appearance of the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future were striking; as were the characters played by the actors concerned.

This production employed many children, who while too numerous to credit individually, were each effective in their roles. Of particular note was Max Bertram who played Tiny Tim convincingly and with such enthusiasm.

From a technical point of view, the sound and special effects were both effective and spot-on cue. I thought the costumes and sets well designed, and this attention to detail extended to the publicity material, with the posters expertly designed by noted artist Len Breen. The direction appeared good too, with every actor confident in their roles and lines - the ever-attentive prompter (Francis Kirby) having nothing to do. Even the background acting (so necessary in support of many of the scenes), was noticeably solid and unwavering throughout.

In short: I enjoyed a striking performance by a capable and committed cast, supported by a first-rate artistic and technical crew. All must be congratulated on this gem of a Dickens classic.

Peter Evans (www.peterevansactor.com)