If you’re not moved by ‘A Christmas Carol’ (now playing at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre) then you just might well be a Scrooge. This stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ time-honoured story is swiftly and engagingly told and the powerful emotional impact all the more impressive given the neatly brief nature of the storytelling.
From the moment you enter the comedy theatre there is a magical atmosphere. There are hundreds of lanterns adorning the ceiling and dropping down on chains from on high, their numbers extending way beyond the stage, halfway across the theatre towards the audience.
The cast is already assembled on stage, singing Christmas carols, eating, drinking, and socialising with the guests in the theatre. Mince pies and other treats are handed out to the audience and music is a constant presence throughout the play. A small band is placed in a box in the dress circle and at several points the cast sing gorgeous choral arrangements of classic Christmas carols, often adding a moving emotional depth to the story. This Christmas Carol is very, well, Christmassy, (yes it snows on stage) There is a comforting warmth and charm that radiates from the stage, and you can’t help being swept up in it all.
The stage is simple and highly effective in creating the sense of old England as it changes seamlessly from scene to scene.
There is a particular moment in act two in which the performance spills out to every corner of the theatre and there is audience participation on another level (I won’t spoil the fun by sharing more you’ll need to see it for yourself).
David Wenham is a superb Scrooge, crusty stale, dismissive, demanding, rude and initially seems more annoyed by the presence of his ghostly visitors than afraid. The moments with his younger self (Cameron Bajraktarevic-Hayward) and with Tiny Tim are particularly touching. Wenham fully embraces Scrooge’s change of heart and makes you believe that anyone can change just by the sparkle in his eyes and the spring in his step. It’s a wonderous transformation.
All in all this is a night of pure theatrical warmth and charm and as Tiny Tim would say “God bless us, every one”.
For tickets/more information head to christmascarolaustralia.com.au but hurry as ‘A Christmas Carol’ is only playing until December 29th