A Christmas Carol

The Cast of A Christmas Carol photo by Jeff BusbySince its publication as a novella in 1843, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has been a festive staple the world over. Following its acclaimed success in 2022, this Old Vic production has returned to the Comedy Theatre to bring Melbourne audiences much warmth and joy this season.

Conceived and directed by Matthew Warchus (Matilda the Musical) and adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), A Christmas Carol provides a stark reminder of Dickens’ themes of social responsibility and poverty, whilst bringing with it festive warmth and celebration.

This dark Victorian tale of a miserable old man haunted by three spirits on Christmas Eve, in a hope that these visits will convince him to change his cold-hearted ways and embrace the Yuletide season and the generosity of giving.

The festive mood of this work is evident from the start. As the audience take their seats, a musical ensemble plays traditional carols from the stage, while others, decked in black Victorian capes and hats, hand out mince pies and mandarins.

Rob Howells’ design is simple and stark, allowing Warchus’ moving storytelling to always be front and centre. Hundreds of suspended lanterns grace the stage and auditorium, providing a magical affect. The pulsating lanterns, coupled with the eerie shadows & colour palettes of Hugh Vanstone’s atmospheric lighting compliments this design.

No stranger to the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, Owen Teale joins the Australian Company, having played the role to great acclaim in The Old Vic’s 2022 London production. Best known for his recurring role of Alliser Thorne in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and no stranger to the stage himself, Teale delivers a nuanced performance, shifting with ease from a bitter miserable old man in act one to his epiphany in act two, unleashing his generous spirit and ensuing mayhem.

Teale is joined by an outstanding cast including Bernard Curry as Bob Cratchit, Debra Lawrance and Samantha Morley as the Christmas Spirits (past and present respectively), Sarah Morrison as Belle, Aisha Aidara as Little Fan, and Grant Piro as Fezziwig.

They are joined by Anthony Harkin as Marley, Deirdre Khoo as Jess, Kaya Byrne as Nicholas, Andrew Coshan (Fred) and Stephanie Lambourn (Mrs Cratchit). Rounding out the cast is Cameron Bajraktarevic-Hayward, Ben Colley, Jack Van Staveren and Jasmine Vaughns. A special mention should be made to Mira Feldman, who made their theatrical debut as Tiny Tim on opening night.

Performing Christopher Nightingale’s award-winning score with a complimentary mix of traditional carols, musical director Peter Rutherford and his ensemble of musicians add a familiar layer to the production. Their stellar performances, especially when joined by the cast on hand bells, provide a number of memorable moments.

With so much joy emanating from the stage even the coldest of hearts will find warmth in this production of A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol
Comedy Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 23 November 2023
Season continues to 7 January 2024
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au

For more information, visit: www.christmascarolaustralia.com.au for details.

Images: The Cast of A Christmas Carol – photo by Jeff Busby | Owen Teale as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol – photo by Jeff Busby

Review: Rohan Shearn