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A Christmas Carol

This Christmas sees the Bridgehouse Theatre in Warwick home to a festive production for the first time in a number of years. After a successful run of their previous work at the venue, Smoking Apples Theatre Company chose to tour here again to produce a timeless classic, ‘A Christmas Carol.’

‘A Christmas Carol’ tells the story of a selfish man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who has isolated himself from the world around him and has lost touch with his own humanity. After continuous bouts of cruelty to all those he meets, even during festivities, he is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley warns Scrooge of his (possible) impending fate and of 3 visits he will have that night; Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Come. Scrooge is taken on a journey by the aforementioned spirits, a journey that sees goodwill returned to his natural demeanour and a warm affection for others where his cold heart once stood.

First published in 1843, this favourite of Dickens himself has been a focal point in literature and performance ever since its conception; the hardest task when undertaking this tale is to make it stand out from the masses that has come before it. Smoking Apples Theatre Company took this challenge head on and have truly set the bar at a higher level as a result.

The scene was set perfectly, both in the foyer and the auditorium, the modern décor of the theatre was complimentarily offset with Victorian trimmings, bringing real authenticity from the off. The cast then quickly added to the ambience by interacting with the audience in their respective characters before the official start to the production.

The show itself began with much energy and enthusiasm, the audience were quickly greeted with live music, singing, dancing and the first example of the genius puppetry that would litter the rest of the night.

George Bellamy, Luke Breen, Molly Freeman, Matthew Lloyd, Sam Redway and Hattie Thomas may read as a small cast, but they all worked tirelessly across the night, stepping into various characters along the way to bring volume and striking presence on stage. Every movement and line were delivered with purpose and expertly poignant in their storytelling. Special mention must go to Sam Redway for his remarkable performance as Ebenezer Scrooge, he faultlessly embodied the characteristics of the part and bought true depth to his journey throughout. Also, Matt Lloyd and Luke Breen for heightening the ‘Ghost of Christmas Present’ part of the tale with their perfectly choreographed and hilariously performed festive food fight!

The highest accolade of the night, however, must go to the puppetry. Masterful in their deliverance, the puppets became integral and lively cast members on stage, bringing with them surprising realism and emotion. There were, of course, the generic (though still exceptionally made!) style of puppet that is to be expected, but the production also offered puppetry in other unusually marvellous forms too. When a tea pot becomes a busy, doting mother, and various kitchen utensils transform into a heartfelt, endearing Tiny Tim, it is a true credit to the cast and crew for breathing life into the skilfully created works of art.

From a technical standpoint this production was flawless; a set that was both authentic and effective in its manoeuvring making scene changes slick and effortless, well-timed and poignant sound effects, and an exceptional lighting design that paved the way for much of the ‘theatre magic’ all audiences are captivated by.

The majesty of a show such as this is that its not just the characters on stage who experience a journey, but the audience are taken right along with them; an emotional and enthralling experience was felt throughout the entire auditorium.

This production will be running right up until Christmas Eve, and it’s a show not to be missed! You can book your tickets now by following the link below:

From the fast-paced energy, humour and constant entertainment, to the infamous ‘Bah! Humbug!’, this is a festive favourite for all the family to enjoy.

Review by Lee Holt, Pulse Productions

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