- November 24, 2018
This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ celebrated novel is the first seasonal production since the theatre’s name-change from West Yorkshire Playhouse, and was first staged at Hull Truck in 2017.
The newly-renamed Leeds Playhouse opens its doors to offer its audiences Christmas cheer in its temporary pop-up space while the building work of its regeneration project continues. And what a glorious choice A Christmas Carol is for the space! We’re all familiar with the story: cold-hearted and disgruntled miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, is visited by three apparitions, who reveal his misplaced disillusionment and lack of positive contribution to the world around him, forcing him to make a change for the better. But it’s the care and attention towards the humanity of the characters that makes you feel warmer than the mulled wine can ever make you feel.
Suspending your disbelief is tested to the extreme by the car crash colour-blind casting decisions (and, for new audiences, I’m sure it’s hard to keep up – for example, how can an Indian dad and a White mother produce a Black child, I hear you say; or even, how can Scrooge, played by a White man, suddenly be a Black child in one of his apparitions!); aside from these painstakingly hard-to-watch moments, the show holds strong by it’s stellar ensemble cast. Pickavance’s Scrooge is in equal parts both dreadful and delightful (as he should be), and Kuppan’s Bob Cratchit is tenderly endearing; but it’s Walker’s Ghost of Christmas Present that steals the show, with her sheer effervescence and pantomime-esque Christmas spirit, which by this point in the show, was well needed.
While loyal audiences will notice the marked limitations of space and scale compared to the Playhouse’s usual festive offerings (there are very few musical numbers and no trap doors to make use of, for instance), this version by Associate Director, Amy Leach, certainly makes up for it with plenty of passion and emotion; at points, the story plucks at the heartstrings, and her experience of directing the version in Hull last year certainly comes to the fore here. In the end, this ain’t a show you’ll leave feeling any sort of baa humbug towards, especially when you realise this version is set closer to home, in Leeds, not London. Merry Christmas everyone!
- Tajpal Rathore
Cast & Crew:
Ebenezer Scrooge – Robert Pickavance
Bob Cratchit – Darren Kuppan
Mrs Cratchit – Jo Mousley
Ghost of Christmas Past – Tessa Parr
Ghost of Christmas Present / Belle – Elexi Walker
Marley’s Ghost / Mr Fezziwig / Old Joe – Joe Alessi
Dick Wilkins / Topper – Lladel Bryant
Fred / Young Scrooge – Dan Parr
Mrs Dilber / Mrs Fezziwig – Susan Twist
Tiny Tim – Lipalo Mokete
Director – Amy Leach
Set & Costume Designer – Hayley Grindle
Lighting Designer – Josh Carr
Composer – John Biddle
Sound Designer – Ed Clarke
Choreographer – Lucy Cullingford
Casting Director – Kay Magson