A Christmas Carol – Review – Bridlington Spa
By Karl Hornsey, November 2017
There’s little better to get one into the Christmas spirit than a theatrical production of an old festive favourite and, in my opinion Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the best of the lot.
I have to declare at this early juncture that I am a huge fan of the novel and the 1951 film adaptation Scrooge; so much so that I read the former and watch the latter around this time every year without fail.
And so it was that we ventured to Bridlington Spa on a cold autumnal evening, eagerly anticipating this production by the Chapterhouse Theatre Company, who are touring the country with the show right up to the 23rd December.
The Company have been performing since 1999 in open-air arenas and smaller theatres, and it’s easy to see why, as they overcame the physical limitations of having a relatively small number of cast members, with most of the actors taking on several roles, and helping out with the scenery changes to keep the production rattling along.
The pivotal character of Scrooge is such an iconic one that it’s hard for any actor to put their own stamp on it and to do something different that hasn’t already been tried, especially considering the acting luminaries to have played him on screen.
The key is, even knowing his failings so well, to portray him as a human being and not just as a caricature, and this is done superbly in this instance, partly by introducing a larger back story for Scrooge than in the novel.
Again in such a production it takes a brave person to deviate too much from such wonderful source material, and Laura Turner has chosen with this adaptation to stay relatively faithful to the original, including word for word some of the most memorable lines of Dickens’ entire output, while introducing new characters to the fold.
The addition of Scrooge’s father and a close school friend make the actions of old Ebenezer more understandable and add that all-important human element. With a cast clearly all revelling in their roles, the audience is in safe hands, with plenty to focus on at all times across the stage, as well as the central, timeless story unfolding.
The action is well-paced and thoughtful, using song and dance liberally to keep the tone light, carrying us along with Scrooge as his succession of spectral visitors takes him through the past, present and future. Crucially the ending still brings cheer to one’s heart and ready to face the festive season with goodwill, and I would be keen to see some of the other classics that the Chapterhouse have got planned for next year.
This was also our first visit to the Spa since its revamp, and it’s an excellent multi-functional venue, perfectly able to hold larger concerts as well as more intimate productions such as this, and it was just a shame that this performance wasn’t packed out, which would have added the icing on the cake and created an even better atmosphere.