Creation Theatre Company - A Christmas Carol
2nd December 2017 to 6th January 2018
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Tingles with the tinsel
The wonderful Creation Theatre nails it again
Creation Theatre: A Christmas Carol, at the North Wall, Oxford, from Saturday, December 2 to Saturday, January 6
A standing ovation and cheers greeted the end of Creation Theatre Company's taut, shiver-inducing production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, written and directed by Gari Jones. Staged as previous Christmas shows, sideways on, with cabaret tables and candles surrounding the stage, and with five of the cast familiar from previous Creation shows, there was a real sense of a repertory togetherness. Scrooge (Nicholas Osmond) is not the geriatric old skinflint, but a young, vibrant city type so Intent on making money he even steals the pennies off the eyes of the corpse of his business partner. Marley (Tom Richardson). When Marley appears as a wraith, the precursor to the three ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future, he slithers out of a brightly-lit chest as if it is a portal from hell, enveloped in head chains like a bound Frankenstein.
Later, a spectral face is pressed through a curtain, mouth open, like a spook from a horror film. A ghost runs rapidly along the balcony carrying a lampshade glowing orange, disappearing behind staging, reappearing for nanoseconds. Matt Eaton's excellent sound design of crackling and creaking noises serves only to heighten the tension synchronising effectively with flashes of lighting (Ashley Bale). Perhaps the most scary moment occurs when two ghostly pale-faced girls crawl their way out of the skirts of one of the Ghosts, on automatic pilot to their doom.
The supernatural horrors are overshadowed by the 'real' terrors of everyday life. Cheerful Londoners grin mercilessly while holding sharp choppers. The Shining meeting Jack the Ripper. Poverty and destitution are the lot of the Cratchett family, forced to share a tiny morsel of food on a plate, and feeling grateful for the amount they have.
Later, the ill Tiny Tim (Richardson, doubling) exists using a hospital breathing machine and is given a Job as chimney sweep. Among these depictions of the undead and the deadly living are a wealth of songs which would not be out of place in Sweeney Todd. Cheerful irony infuses the lyrics as the characters hoof their way towards oblivion. No wonder Scrooge saw the light.
There is a review from the Oxford Times ("dark, bleak and haunting, this is a Christmas show like no other... Dickens would surely love it... it is touching; moving even. I am not afraid to admit to shedding a couple of tears, and was not alone. This, after all, is a tale of redemption – and we have never witnessed such a turnaround... the acting, and singing, throughout is superb... this is as good as theatre gets" - 5/5).