Every Christmas we see a family show together. This year we started early at the very end of November and went to A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have seen productions of Charles Dickens classic tale of Scrooge, even the teens have seen several. So would Rhys Ifans be any better than any of the other Scrooges that we have seen?
Things started well, as we walked into the auditorium a Victorian pie seller offered us a free mince pie and very tasty it was too. Mince Pie in had we made our way to our seats and glanced down at the stage. It was a space transformed, no longer a standard stage with a proscenium arch but rather a theatre in the round. With lots of lights twinkling above the stage. In the middle were more Victorians this time playing seasonal tunes.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen faded into the background and in came Scrooge in all his Christmas Bah Humbug glory. The story was told in a mix of a chorus of actors reading the text of the book and actors acting out the scenes which worked really well. One of the reasons that we chose A Christmas Carol again this year is because it is one of the teens GCSE set texts, we had frequent whispered asides when things were not as they were in the original. First of all the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future are all women, which I am sure that Dickens would have done had he been a twenty first century man.
Rhys Ifans captured the curmudgeonly nature of Scrooge perfectly at the start of the play and we see him beginning to wander if maybe being a grouch isn’t the best way to be. When he wakes after his night of bad dreams he becomes positively skittish. Every inch of the auditorium is deployed for the big feast scene as snow falls over the audience.
How did The Old Vic’s Christmas Carol compare to the many others that we have seen? By far the best and we have seen some pretty good productions, which is why we go again and again. If you have older children or even no children make sure that is the Christmas show that you see this year.
If you haven’t booked tickets for a Christmas Show yet there is plenty of inspiration in my Christmas Shows post. For more insights into the writing of A Christmas Carol visit the Charles Dickens Museum which has a special show about the novels creation as well as being dressed for Christmas.
- The Old Vic, The Cut, Waterloo, London SE1 8NB
- Tickets cost from £12 to £125
- Performances 7.30 Monday – Saturday plus matinee on Wednesday and Saturday
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