October is a little bit early for me to be getting festive, but I made an exception for a production of A Christmas Carol - it's suitably ghostly for Hallowe'en and is, after all, the original "bah humbug" tale!
The Victorian tale of redemption and the victory of charity and goodwill over greed and wealth is as relevant today as it was when Dickens wrote it. It also happens to be one of my favourite stories, loved ever since I first saw Alistair Sim's Scrooge some 40 years ago.
So would The Royalty production meet my expectations? I ventured out with my friend Irene (a Royalty virgin) to see!
A sparse set, effectively enhanced with scenes projected onto the backdrop, Christmas carols, and a brilliant narrator (Thomas Potts) ensured the audience was drawn in from the outset.
Marley's Ghost (Paul Lonsdale) had a slightly vampirish air, as he pleaded with his old friend Ebeneezer Scrooge (Billy Towers) to mend his ways, and pay heed to the spirits who were about to visit him. The Christmas Spirits were each quite distinct - from the playful and sympathetic Christmas Past (Siobhan Brennan) dressed as the fairy from the Christmas tree, to the positively Brian Blessed-ish Christmas Present (Scott Henderson) with his deep rumbling good humour (and it has to be said, the most preposterous wig), to the ominously silent and forbidding Christmas Future (Jordan Carling).
There are some good performances - most notably Thomas Potts as the narrator and James Lee as Bob Cratchit, whose carol singing as he returns from visiting Tiny Tim's grave is heartbreakingly beautiful. Billy Towers plays a convincing miserly Scrooge. Under the direction of Andrew Barella the story flows well, certainly in the first act and I think this is due in good part to the quality of the narration and smooth scene changes. The second act saw a few technical glitches, with lights coming up too soon, which meant the audience knew the ghosts hadn't appeared and disappeared quite so magically as they should, and stage crew struggled to get the set pieces in place before the scene began. The spooky mist that accompanied the ghosts was a tad over done, which unfortunately did detract from the atmosphere of Christmas Future rather than enhancing it, proving more amusing than ominous as the front two rows disappeared into the fog. A note for future productions - where dry ice is concerned, less is definitely more!
That said, this was a joyous production, and was certainly entertaining and we left with a warm, festive glow at the end of the night.
It runs until Sat 1st Nov, so if you are looking for a hallowe'en activity that's a bit different, just want to avoid the trick or treaters or fancy an early start to your festive spirit then you could do worse than pay a visit to the Royalty this week!
This review was published on Spikemike ...is breaking a leg