A Christmas Carol (2019 edition) – Bristol Old Vic REVIEW

Bringing back a production for the second year in the highly anticipated Christmas slot at a theatre is a bold move. With an entirely different cast but many elements the same will Tom Morris’ A Christmas Carol managed to stay as fresh as it was in its 2018 run? 

I feel that the knack with achieving a good production of A Christmas Carol is finding the hidden balance between the light and the dark all whilst staying true to the moral tale it teaches the audience. This is what Bristol Old Vic does perfectly. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
A Christmas Carol Bristol Old Vic Theatre. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

We are often reminded that it is a family show but that doesn’t stop this appealing to all ages, genders, classes and walks of life. There are jokes that will go unnoticed by a child but will make an adult chuckle to themselves, songs for all to sing along to and darker moments to make the adults stop and think. 

The kids feel like they are at the heart of the production with the fourth wall often broken by both Scrooge and the ensemble and a couple of lucky children being chosen to go up onto the stage to be part of the play. It was clear to see that it made their day! 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
A Christmas Carol Bristol Old Vic Theatre. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

John Hopkins’ Scrooge doesn’t quite out shine last years Felix Hayes’ Scrooge but he is pretty darn close. He does, however, have a gorgeous bass singing voice which reverberated throughout the auditorium. Bob Cratchit, played by Stephen Collins, and his sign language added another modern twist and opportunities for more laughter whilst giving a nod to Bristol Old Vic’s focus on diversity within the arts. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
A Christmas Carol Bristol Old Vic Theatre. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

There was ingenious techniques and storytelling methods sprinkled throughout the show and even a few moments of magic. The original songs returned from last year which were ridiculously catchy and I sang all the way home. Accompanied by the live band, the ensemble could both sing and dance well. They excelled at bringing moments of frivolity and colour to the darker times. 

The set also remained the same. It’s eerie scaffolding levels and gothic-like stairs and four poster bed made for a perfect ghostly atmosphere for the evening to unfold in. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
A Christmas Carol Bristol Old Vic Theatre. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

This imaginative retelling of A Christmas Carol has achieved a fresh new feel with a brand new cast but maintained some brilliant elements from it’s original show that would have been a shame to lose. 

When a show is this good, why wouldn’t you run it again? If it returns to Bristol Old Vic again next year, then so will I! 

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