When it comes to December, a few things that must happen for it to officially be Christmas.
You have to have heard Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ or Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ daily since the start of the month.
There must be an open box of chocolates on the sideboard to eat unnecessarily.
And of course, you must have also referred to at least one person who doesn’t get into the spirit with ‘bah humbug’.
How about saying it to the real Scrooge though?
Well, this year we had our opportunity.
On Thursday, we were lucky enough to be invited to the press night of A Christmas Carol at Bridge House Theatre in Warwick.
What could really be more appropriate for a British Christmas?
Created by award-winning puppetry and visual theatre company Smoking Apples, the show promised to be an exciting new take on the old classic.
If you’re not familiar with the story, in a nutshell, Mr Scrooge, a rich and selfish man, comes face-to-face with magical spirits who help him to learn the true meaning of Christmas. He travels through time to face the ghosts of his past, present and future who show him his fate if he continues to be such a mean person.
So what did we think?
Initially, I wasn’t sure how it might go, taking my 5 year old to watch the show. It was an evening performance to start with, she is shattered in the run up to Christmas, and it is essentially a ghost story.
What could possibly go wrong?
I decided that it was worth the risk given what I knew of the story. She’s previously seen cartoon versions of the story before too, so she had some idea of what to expect.
At first, she was a bit spooked by the idea of the ghosts. This quickly subsided though as she interacted with the characters before the performance. The actors were making their their way around the auditorium in character, cracking jokes and encouraging the audience to ‘boo’ Scrooge, which was a great touch – especially for the kids.
Once the show started, she was fascinated by the sets, how they looked and how they changed between scenes. It’s not a huge theatre, but the set design was really clever and the outside of buildings were quickly switched around to become the inside of the next scene, for example.
As you’d expect, the story mostly followed the classic novel, but used puppets to illustrate parts of the show. There was one scene in particular that used shadow puppets to convey when Scrooge is shown how his relationship with his fiancé breaks down as he revisits his past. It was such a simple idea but so clever and really captivated the audience.
As the actors paused for the interval, I could see that my daughter was getting tired. I asked her if she was OK and she questioned whether the show had finished. I thought this might mean our evening was coming to an end, but as I explained that it was just a break, she replied, “ah yay – so there is more to come?”. We all know that kids say what they mean, so I took from that that she was enjoying it!
The second half started with a comical scene of a food fight to show Scrooge how other people can be frivolous and wasteful, and take pleasure in it. It was so funny and well done, mixing in slow motion, which really made us laugh.
The next ghost appeared (the sinister one that represented the future), and of course, Scrooge saw the error of his ways. So to top it all off, the show ended with the feel-good scene of Scrooge sharing his wealth and having a good old sing song.
The final word
Unlike some Christmas shows, I wouldn’t say this one was specifically for little children as they might be a bit freaked out by parts of the story. It is however but a great option for family theatre if you have slightly older children (from 5-6+ years) – especially if they are looking at A Christmas Carol as part of their school festivities. My daughter said she really loved it – particularly the part with Tiny Tim.
We also really liked the brilliant scenery such as when the magical woods appear near to the end. Theatre stages never cease to amaze me!
The characters closely follow the original novel, and although it’s a small cast, they are excellent at holding the audience’s interest to tell the tale.
And finally, A Christmas Carol illustrates the idea that money doesn’t necessarily make you a nice person (or happy). Explaining that to our children is an important message – especially at Christmas when it is easy to lose sight of what is important.
We both really enjoyed the performance, and everyone around us was saying the same thing. I’d definitely recommend it this Christmas!
You can book tickets for A Christmas Carol between 14th – 24th December 2019 on the theatre website.