The independent London newspaper

Review: A Christmas Carol, at Old Vic

19 December, 2019 — By Sipora Levy

Paterson Joseph in A Christmas Carol. Photo: Manuel Harlan

JACK Thorne’s adaptation of Dickens’ classic Christmas story has proved so popular that this is its third outing at the Old Vic.

And Paterson Joseph, following in the footsteps of Rhys Ifans and Stephen Tompkinson as Scrooge, does a brilliant job.

After the death of his partner, Jacob Marley (Andrew Langtree), Scrooge turns his back on the world, refusing to celebrate Christmas or help those less fortunate than himself. Female spirits appear, representing the ghosts of Christmas past (Myra McFadyen) and present (Gloria Onitiri) to show him the error of his ways.

At first Scrooge resists, but slowly he begins to examine himself and to recognise how generosity and helping others might transform his life.

Joseph, known for his work with the RSC, is suitably mean and cold-hearted in the earlier scenes, but reveals his character’s vulnerability and subsequent desperation to make amends with humour and warmth. He is supported by a fine company of actors and musicians.

Matthew Warchus’s staging and Rob Howell’s sets and costumes are particularly impressive. Gone are the clichéd cobbled streets and shop windows. The audience sit in the round, lanterns hang from the ceiling, door frames mysteriously appear and disappear and the actors and musicians turn up in unexpected places.

This is a lavish and big-hearted production that showers the audience with snowflakes and glorious choral singing. Mince pies and satsumas are also handed round. It is a vibrant celebration of community spirit and what Christmas really should be about.

Until January 18 2020
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