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A Christmas Carol

Published by: Sue Casson on 17th Dec 2012 | View all blogs by Sue Casson

This exciting new adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale by Alexander Wright (York Mystery Plays 2012, Beulah, The Boy James) presents scenes from Scrooge’s life, while also giving us a chance to speak to him, offer him food and drink, and try to cheer him up. This interactive performance takes inventive liberties with the original to create an intimate, witty and totally involving experience, in which we, as the audience, become the happy, feasting spirits of Christmas present, unnerving Scrooge and ultimately seeking to transform him.

 

A Christmas CarolThis site-specific, immersive production, set in the Top Parlour Room of the Lamb and Lion Inn (a beautiful, historic pub, nestling under York city walls), enables us, uninvited, to spend a jolly evening with Dickens’ notorious miser at his house on Christmas Eve. Using intense dramatic moments, feasting, drinking and games to create a combination of a family party, a shared meal and participatory storytelling, the Flanagan Collective hosts a wonderful, unpredictable evening, involving lots of laughter and live music. John Holt Roberts, as the Spirits of Christmas, guides our mission to shake Scrooge from his gloom, sweeping us along with great energy, good humour and hearty Christmas songs, and occasionally calling on us to help him tell the story of how the cantankerous old miser got that way. Ed Wren meanwhile is an endearingly recalcitrant Scrooge, pitching his performance perfectly. Children will certainly enjoy the challenge of trying to cheer him up! Both actors work in close harmony, skillfully leading us to a deeply satisfying, heart-warming climax.

 

Director Tom Bellerby (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Beulah) generously hands over a large proportion of the drama to the audience, allowing them to guide what happens to Scrooge, and this brave production takes lots of risks, admirably pushing the boundaries of traditional theatre, but never too far. The delicious food and drink are deeply integrated into the action to form a communal Christmas feast as the centrepiece, and the audience’s usual discussion and taking of refreshments, that would normally occur at the interval, flow seamlessly into the main fabric of the drama, feeding back directly into what happens in the story. You feel fully part of the drama, and that you can actually make a difference to what happens.

 

Although the concept of audience participation strikes fear into the heart of many, in such expert hands it works brilliantly, and everyone can join in as much or as little as they wish, in a warm, relaxed, family atmosphere. Being suitable for ages 8 upwards, this is an excellent show for the whole family, and the intimate, candle-lit setting creates a strong sense of being at home, while in the heart of the city. With only 20 tickets per show, including festive food and drink, this is a deeply nourishing evening in every sense, leaving us with a lovely chock-a-bloc, relaxed, Christmassy feeling. It offers us, like Scrooge, a brief pause in which to spend time with others, soften up, relax and recall the true meaning of Christmas. What more could you ask for?

 

The Lamb and Lion Inn is at 2-4 High Petergate York YO1 7EH (01904 612078)

15th-30th Dec, £25. (not 17th, 24th, 25th, 26th)
Show include some hearty Christmas food and a drop of whatever Marley has in his flagon.

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