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SLY Theatre - A Christmas Carol

21st to 22nd December 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

The Dickens of a tale

Shining Lights Youth Theatre: A Christmas Carol, at New Greenham Arts, on Tuesday, December 21 and Wednesday, December 22

As the audience enter the auditorium to group of steam-punk Victorians busily painting words from Dickens best-loved Christmas story on to any available scenery (including the four boxes that will later cleverly transform into Scrooge’s bed, office, schoolroom and ultimately his grave) it is clear that the words are going to be important in this re-telling of A Christmas Carol from SLY Theatre.

And indeed they are as the story is clearly told and scenes woven in our imaginations by the narrating chorus. They bark Christmas carols at us and provide real menace to the appearance of Marley’s Ghost (powerfully portrayed by Natalie Poernig). All the characters emerge from the chorus, transforming themselves quickly with the addition of a hat or a scarf. Even Ebenezer Scrooge takes his turn in the chorus, adding real depth to the idea that this is a story that we are being told. Holly Lucas is a confident Scrooge, hard and unlikeable at first but ridiculously childlike and loveable by the end.

Caz Harrold brings a real gentleness to the Ghost of Christmas Past, nudging a reluctant Scrooge towards understanding. Poppy Jermaine as the Ghost of Christmas Present wrenches both Scrooge and the audience through a whole range of emotions ending with the chilling revelation of Ignorance and Want, symbols of humankind’s greed that fittingly remain highlighted for the rest of the show. Anna Roberts completes the ghostly trio with a wonderfully understated Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Elliot Laker almost steals the show with his delightfully bumbling Fezziwig and touching naïve nephew Fred. Freya Poole gives a sensitive portrayal of Bob Cratchit but also doubles as musical director. An unenviable task (and one she manages brilliantly) as she is responsible for keeping a range of hectic time signatures together as the traditional Christmas carols are deconstructed to weave their way around and through the storytelling.

A thrilling piece of ensemble theatre from SLY Theatre, who manage to keep the storytelling engaging throughout.