Review: A Christmas Carol, Royal Lyceum Theatre

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It’s all too easy to feel the humbug seeping in as you wander aimlessly through department stores and supermarkets festooned with Christmas decorations in October.

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And then there’s balancing each other’s families’ demands with a never ending list of expensive wants from the kids and even higher household bills. It’s enough to make you want to cancel Christmas and head for Florida. Alone.

Thank heavens for Dickens and the Lyceum then. While their retelling of A Christmas Carol may be peppered with more humbugs than an Everton sweet shop, the fuzzy warmth that fills the auditorium as the final curtain descends reeks most decidedly of cinnamon, pine needles and roaring log fires.

It’s two-hour length is enough Christmas cheer therapy to reinvigorate your over-tinseled mind and get you through to the new year on nothing more than a glass of mulled orange juice and a mince pie.

The story rolls along at a jaunty pace, aided by an able Greek chorus of actor musicians with an engaging line in Christmas carols, used to best effect in Scrooge’s encounter with the ghost of Christmas past at his old, lonely school.

Taking the lead as Scrooge, Christopher Fairbank gives a sprightly performance, depicting the character as a lonely man just bursting to rediscover his joyful zest for life.

The pacing and Fairbank’s liveliness dulls the pathos of the original story a little but for the purposes of good family fun, Neil Duffield’s adaption is full of heart and wit without losing the tale’s core messages. There are even a few chuckles for the adults that will sail blissfully over little heads.

Faithful to Dickens’ original manuscript, the story is told in turns by the cast as they move key props round the set. A 70s style beaded backdrop serves as a projector curtain with mixed results, while it will delight fans of 90s cult classic kids program Knightmare, others will find it under utilised and the entrances made through it unwieldy, much like watching the man at the corner shop disappear through the back to check his stock.

n Run ends January 4