Review: A Christmas Carol is ‘enjoyable for the whole family’

PUBLISHED: 15:35 17 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:18 19 December 2018

Company of Ten presents A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Nick Clarke / Abbey Theatre.

Company of Ten presents A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Nick Clarke / Abbey Theatre.

Abbey Theatre

Madeleine Burton reviews Company of Ten’s production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

The Company of Ten's production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Anne Frizell.The Company of Ten's production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Anne Frizell.

Panto is great fun but to enjoy the real message of Christmas, look no further than the Company of Ten’s seasonal show.

This year the St Albans drama group is performing Anthony Peters’ adaptation of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.

Not only is it highly entertaining but it also features carol singing and through the story of Scrooge, a lesson about the redemption of humanity at Christmas.

If that sounds a bit over the heads of the young audience on Sunday afternoon’s performance, nothing could be further from the truth.

The Company of Ten's production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Anne Frizell.The Company of Ten's production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Anne Frizell.

They were largely riveted by the popular tale with its ghosts and how they transform the miserly Scrooge into a caring and kindly man.

As ever, the stage at the Abbey Theatre is cleverly designed to show not just Scrooge’s office but his bedroom and the outside world.

And by the use of skilful projection, the ‘gaps’ in the story are filled, particularly as the ghosts show Scrooge his Christmas past and the future if he does not change his ways.

In between the story, the cast sings carols, reinforcing the message that Christmas is to be celebrated.

The Company of Ten's production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Anne Frizell.The Company of Ten's production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Anne Frizell.

As is so often the case, the cast have several roles with the exception of Dewi Williams, a Company of Ten veteran, who is excellent in the main role of Scrooge.

His portrayal of the conversion of Scrooge from skinflint to benefactor is both moving and believable.

Equally impressive is Rory Byrne, who takes the role of Jacob Marley, as well as Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Present.

These two set the standard for the rest of the cast, of whom special mention should go to the enthusiastic Ben Tiplady as Bob Cratchit, Lisa Kinshuck as his long-suffering wife, and Zodiac O’Neill as both Young Scrooge and Old Joe.

The Company of Ten's production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Anne Frizell.The Company of Ten's production of A Christmas Carol at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Anne Frizell.

Then, of course, there are the children.

Two sets of casts take part in the run and so cheeky was our Tiny Tim on Sunday that the audience cheered as the youngster used a crutch to hop offstage.

There are a few flaws in the production – the echo accompanying the voices of the ghosts made them a bit hard to hear and some of the cast were a little wooden – perhaps not surprising as they frequently had very short lines.

But all in all A Christmas Carol, directed jointly by the experienced combination of Katherine Barry and Philip Reardon, is a success and enjoyable for the whole family.

• The show runs until Saturday, December 29 and dates and times of performances can be found at www.abbeytheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01727 857861.

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