England is in the throws of one of the snowiest Decembers in its tender 21st Century with roof tops and hedges covered in a pure white frost. And in the middle of this twee picturesque landscape that Americans so love, what better news than the opening of A Christmas Carol, now showing at Theatre Delicatessen.
But just as tired and cold commuters are a million miles away from the Yuletide spirit (thinking only of ‘adverse weather conditions’) so Jessica Jordan-Wrench’s muddled production removes any romance from one of literature’s most magical Christmas events.
TV screens flicker into supernatural life and piercing torch lights act as ghostly eyes ominously penetrating the room
Pete Wrench’s script lies limp, falling between a rock and a hard place as it tries to incorporate Victorian vocabulary within a modern rhythm. Perhaps most importantly any sense of dramatic tension is lost as this Scrooge finds his redemption far too easily and as the actors are unable to inspire any empathy for their caricatures, the whole endeavour feels almost completely unnecessary.
Luckily, unlike delayed travellers on our weather beleaguered transport system, it is not machinery that is to be blamed in a show which sparkles technologically. TV screens flicker into supernatural life and piercing torch lights act as ghostly eyes ominously penetrating the room; Scrooge’s terror may seem a little presentational, but you can see why he’d be slightly perturbed. Rob Hart’s sound design nicely layers an otherwise flat show, adding as much atmosphere to this story as it can.
** (2 stars)
Runs until 24th December 2010