The story of Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come in an attempt to redeem his cold-hearted, miserly, Christmas-hating ways has been adapted numerous times, with each new version having to offer something different to ensure it stands out. A Christmas Carol, adapted and performed by Dominic Gerrard and directed by Tim Carroll, uses puppetry and music to tell this well-known tale in an original and imaginative way.
As the play begins, Gerrard steps out onto the simple and minimalist stage in Victorian dress and embodies the role of storyteller as he begins to guide the audience through the tale. In the centre of the stage is Ebenezer Scrooge – a nearly life-size puppet, existing only from the waist up on a table, with his arms and head controlled by Gerrard. At first Scrooge’s gaunt, static face is shocking, but perfectly embodies the unattractive qualities of Scrooge’s character. Yet, over the course of the story it seems to change, his face becoming expressive and mirroring the emotions of the story. Dominic Gerrard controls the puppet expertly with the tiniest of movements expressing Scrooge’s emotions and rendering him almost human-like.
…a solo violin hauntingly playing…
The bare stage and minimal props – a chair and a small number of items for Scrooge – is effective for this performance. Slight changes in lighting help to evoke emotions and changes in place, and the simple accompaniment of a solo violin hauntingly playing Christmas carols adds to the effect.
The performance is reminiscent of traditional storytelling, with Gerrard’s compelling and captivating storytelling fully immersing the audience in the story, the emptiness of the stage disappearing as our imaginations fill it. Gerrard seamlessly moves from character to character, capturing the recognisable figures with each distinctive voice. The scene with the Cratchits is particularly successful, with Gerrard singly capturing and evoking the busyness, warmth and excitement of the Cratchit household as they prepare for their Christmas dinner.
…Christmas past, present and future…
The play is fast-paced, with the 70 minutes passing quickly as you are transported with Scrooge through Christmas past, present and future and are a witness to his transformation.
Whilst its run at the Waterloo East Theatre has now ended, special performances are taking place at the V&A and the Dickens Museum, offering another chance to see this traditional festive tale wonderfully and imaginatively told. A perfect way to start the festive season.