Photo: Manuel Harlan

We adore this production of A Christmas Carol – it’s such a treat every time it comes around. Jack Thorne’s adaptation has played at London’s The Old Vic every festive season since 2017 (although it didn’t enjoy its usual full run in 2020, for obvious reasons), each time with a big name starring as Ebenezer Scrooge, one of Charles Dickens’ most infamous creations. For the 2023 season we have Christopher Eccleston who is a perfect fit for the role.

Not much changes with this production each year, so there will be lots of people out there who will know what to expect by now. There are mince pies up for grabs at the start (they’re free!) and the usual fruit and vegetable related gimmicks, as well as fake snow galore. It’s a production full of music – unsurprisingly, there are lots of Christmas carols in here. Some are sung beautifully by the cast, others performed hauntingly with bells. The end result is a show which looks, feels and sounds incredibly festive.

We recognised numerous members of the supporting cast as they returned from previous years’ productions. There are stellar performances from our ghosts of Christmas past, present and future – played by Julie Jupp, Gemma Knight Jones and Rose Shalloo respectively – who offer some wise words of counsel but also some deliciously witty punchlines. Rob Compton is excellent as Scrooge’s overworked and under appreciated employee Bob Cratchit. The role of Tiny Tim is shared by four young actors – we saw Alexander Joseph, who really stole our hearts.

For all the warmth and festive cheer of this production, there is, of course, a serious social commentary at the heart of A Christmas Carol, and the key narrative themes resonate even more deeply within the context of the current cost of living crisis. These shows are raising funds for City Harvest, a London-based charity which redistributes excess food to provide over a million free meals each month to vulnerable residents of the city. This is a wonderfully warm production, full of festive cheer, and it’s all for a good cause – what’s not to love?

GAY TIMES gives A Christmas Carol – 4/5

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