A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story
Rating: ★★★★
Venue: Alexandra Palace, London
Cast: Keith Allen, Peter Forbes, Leona Allen, James Backway, Geoffrey Beevers, Angelina Chudi, Edward Harrison, Bettrys Jones, Joe Shire, Rebecca Trehearn and Ryan Weston 

It's a cold Christmas Eve and mean-spirited miser Ebenezer Scrooge has an unexpected visit from the spirit of his former business partner Jacob Marley. Bound in chains as punishment for a lifetime of greed, the unearthly figure explains it isn't too late for Scrooge to change his miserly ways in order to escape the same fate, but first he'll have to face three more eerie encounters…

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is one of the most iconic Christmas stories, and this adaptation by Mark Gatiss is something of a revelation. It takes a Victorian piece of literature, and makes it accessible to a modern audience, all while sticking largely to the source material.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, A Christmas Carol follows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge; a mean, hardened, older man. His equally unpleasant business partner, Marley, has recently passed. However, in this adaptation the audience are treated to a rare glimpse into Scrooge and Marley's relationship, as we witness the scenes just before his death. Seven years later, Scrooge is visited by Marley's chained ghost who urges him to change his ways before it's too late...

While most portrayals of this classic are quite tame in regards to scares, it is not the case in this adaptation. It's described as a ghost story, and after seeing the production, it's clear to see why. The illusions by John Bulleid create an ethereal atmosphere, that is almost tangible at times. While it does ooze Christmas spirit, it occasionally feels almost Halloween like, which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

The set design by Paul Wills is simply stunning, and Alexandra Palace is the perfect venue to capture the Victorian aura this play needs to thrive. There are chains hanging from the lighting rig, and fairy lights adorning the ceiling; all of which help set the scene before the show has even begun. The lighting (Phillip Gladwell) and sound (Ella Wahlström) elevate the set with chilling moans and alarmingly realistic holograms and projections. I will mention that some of the lighting is incredibly bright, and can feel quite jarring at times.

The cast, led by Keith Allen, are exceptional. Allen's Scrooge is particularly brilliant in the first half of the show. However, I felt the character became a bit lost in act two, and I didn't quite believe the redemption arc we were being sold. In saying this, his one-liners are brilliant, and his comedic timing is superb. Particular stand out members of the cast were Edward Harrison as the cheerful, and ever optimistic Bob Cratchit and Joe Shire as the jolly but commanding Ghost of Christmas Present.

Touching scenes such as Fezziwig's ball and the Cratchit family dinner embody the true meaning of Christmas. As an audience member, I left with a tear in my eye and warmth in my heart; which I've always felt as though should be the aim of a play such as A Christmas Carol.

If you're looking for a production to immerse yourself in Christmas spirit and embrace the joys of the festive season, A Christmas Carol is the show for you. A visually and sensually outstanding piece of theatre.

You can book tickets to A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story at Alexandra Palace, here.

**photo credit to Manuel Harlan**

No comments