A Christmas Carol ★★★★ Middle Temple Hall | December 20 - 29, 2022

More than any other author, Dickens has defined the modern notion of Christmas, and his novella, A Christmas Carol, has become the definitive work on that subject. Its adaptability and continuing resonance are extraordinary. This season alone we have had versions set in Depression era Tennessee and involving that other Victorian icon, Sherlock Holmes. The permutations seem endless, but whatever the treatment, Dickens' perennial classic continues to engage and its message connects with a new audience. This current version is a traditional telling of Scrooge's tale of conversion to the true values of the season, and it is set in the wonderfully evocative Middle Temple Hall. Completed in 1573 the Hall is an ideal setting for a dramatic version of Dickens' masterpiece. The fact that the writer himself was a student here and that the building and grounds appear in some of his other works only adds to the charm of this awesome ambiance. Nick Barstow has done a superb job of weaving all our favourite Christmas carols into his score, and with some clever lyrics from Ben Horslen and John Risebero they carry forward the story while also bringing new depths to the familiar tunes. However, one of the prices that one pays for enjoying this delightful production set in such a historic building is that the acoustics are less than perfect. On occasion, we lost some of the lyrics and also some of the dialogue. Nonetheless, the cast do a fine job of bringing new life to this familiar tale, and David Burt is an excellent Scrooge. He is totally convincing as the miserly miscreant and suitably heartwarming as the redeemed version of his former self. This production, in its extraordinary setting, not only captures the essence Dickens' archetypal story, it is bound to kindle the spirit of the season in everyone.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Lidia Crisafulli.

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