Wednesday, 10 November 2021

REVIEW: A Christmas Carol at The Nottingham Playhouse

Adapted by Mark Gatiss and directed by Adam Penford this classic Charles Dickens tale is revived once again at the Nottingham Playhouse and spookier than ever. 

Set in Victorian London we are introduced to Gattis’ Jacob Marley and Nicholas Farrell as Ebenezer Scrooge himself. Farrell does a phenomenal job in this iconic role, displaying all the best qualities of a character you will start by hating and leave with a strange love for. His sarcastic wit is refreshing and Ebenezer's transformation is undoubtedly heartwarming. 

The ghosts were diverse and all extremely intriguing, all playing their parts in showing us the past, present and future. Merit to the company that all shone individually and as an ensemble playing many roles between them. Edward Harrison was a particularly lovable Bob Cratchit whilst Joe Shire portrayed a captivating Ghost of Christmas Present. 

Gatiss has delivered yet again with his adaptation whilst retaining much of the original story and well-known lines. Some of the harder scenes however feel a little short such as the death of Tiny Tim which you could blink and you’d miss it.

The set design from Paul Wills is stand out from the offset, towering filing cabinets that imitate London’s architecture paired with period furniture - you could spend a wealth of time exploring the world created. The stage presents a depth without losing the intimacy needed for a spooky tale. Cast members are easily able to disappear into the set whilst larger pieces are turned and altered to create varying spaces. More drama is added by excellent lighting design by Philip Gladwell. The subtle glow of candle and street light cut between snappy and bright changes for the ghosts arrivals are spectacular alongside Ella Wahlströms sound design. 

Video projection from Nina Dunn enhances the production tenfold. Subtle backdrops aid the set design in taking us from one location to the next seamlessly. Cleverly using gauze to paint city skylines alongside boosting supernatural special effects from John Bulleid. 

The show makes some bold claims promising spine-tingling special effects and whilst it does have some jumpy moments we’re never quite given a real fright. The special effects seemed a little lacklustre, quills falling from desks and the like. Effective though they were, they were not in any way spine-tingling. 

Ending with the festive cheer you’d expect with some added carol singing and of course, snow. There is no denying that this is a fantastic reinvention of such a well-known tale and it is done brilliantly - just don’t expect to leave feeling particularly spooked. 

The show transfers to Alexandra Palace from 26th November to 9th January. 

Review by Alyssa Tuck

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Stalls P26

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