We all know the story of dear old Scrooge. He’s a grump that hates Christmas but is changed through the course of the story. Same old story one could assume, but the interpretation played at The Old Vic in the heart of London gives the well-known story a new drift. Part of the success of this new version is theatre and TV-star Rhys Ifans who gives Scrooge a new facet to get to know.
The new version of the play by Jack Thorne follows the same direction as the original story from Charles Dickens published in 1843. The play tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by the ghost version of his former business partner Jacob Marley (Alex Gaumond) as well as the ghosts of the past, present and future Christmas (Myra McFadyen, Golda Rosheuvel and Melissa Allan). The ghosts reminds Scrooge of how he has changed during the years and what kind of person he has become. Scrooge, mortified by what he has become, aims to change his future and becoming a better person.
The first look you get at the auditorium is already really impressing. With a cross shaped stage, where parts of the audience sit on all sides of the stage, you are part of the play itself. Actors from the company, already dressed for the first scenes walk the aisles and hand out mince pies. They interact with their audience and this continues throughout the entire show. The setting itself is simple but beautiful. The old theatre creates an atmosphere which doesn’t need much more. A beautiful and breathtaking detail are the lanterns hanging above the stage. During the show the setting doesn’t change much. Four doorframes and moveable props are everything the actors need to bring the show alive during the nearly two hours of the play. The rest of the atmosphere is purely created by the actors who all show magnificent acting skills.
The ensemble is led by theatre and TV star Rhys Ifans. Currently starring in drama TV series Berlin Station he is already drawing people to the show purely for his name. However, in the course of the evening Ifans shows why he is also very well-known as theatre actor. Ifans, who plays the role with everything he has to give, adds a new layer to the well-known character. You can see in every bit of acting, that he pours his heart and soul into the role. His desperation to not become the person the ghosts have shown him is heart-wrecking and has probably brought tears to many people’s eyes.
However, the play is not purely carried by Ifans. His co-stars also carry out exceptional acting skills. The ghost of the past, present and future Christmas for example, in this production all portrayed by women, do an exceptional job. Little Fan, Scrooges sister, who is also the ghost of the Future Christmas played by Melissa Allan charmingly unites the sister she has been to Scrooge in the past with her ghost version who tells him off for becoming who he is now.
Outstanding performers within the male ensemble can be found both in Alastair Parker as Fezziwig, Scrooges former boss and Fred, Scrooges nephew portrayed by Eugene McCoy. However, all other ensemble members as well show marvelous acting skills and touch the audience with their voices during the carols.
A Christmas Carol is a touching, heartbreaking but at the same time funny and magical show that is an absolute must-see for everyone happening to be in London. The show can be seen at The Old Vic until 20th January with still a few seats left. More information can be found here.