A Christmas Carol at Middle Temple
Performances of A Christmas Carol seems to have become a common London sight during the festive period. I checked out one of them, namely the performance of A Christmas Carol at Middle Temple.
The first thing that strikes you about the performance is the setting. The performance takes place in Middle Temple Hall, a hall where Charles Dickens himself frequented. The hall and the surrounding area looked beautifully festive with a huge tree in the hall itself and many other lights dotted around the venue.
This version of a Christmas Carol is very traditional in its portrayal of the play including much of the language used. The show was two hours and there were moments that felt slightly dragged out, especially with the Ghost of Christmas past. Combined with the traditional prose was a lot of music, composed and arranged by Nick Barstow. We were treated to Christmas Carols and the singers from the cast were accompanied by a small band, some of whom doubled up as musicians as well as playing their part. This addition of the Christmas carols really helped the festive feel of the show as well as create different moods throughout the show. Due to the lack of amplification of the performers combined with the huge room it did mean that at times it was difficult to hear some of the dialogue or understand what was being sung, especially when the actors were facing away from you. Luckily for a show like A Christmas Carol the plot is very well known so it didn’t affect the storytelling but it was a shame to miss some of it.
Playing Ebenezer Scrooge was David Burt. He encompassed the ‘bah humbug’ Scrooge from the outset of the show that the audience come to expect. I then really enjoyed his gradual transition to enlightenment following the ghosts visits and by the end of the show Burt looked as if he was several stone lighter the way he practically danced around the stage in contrast to his earlier scenes. Asides from Burt there was another 10 actors who played all of the other characters throughout. I particularly enjoyed Richard Holt’s performance as the Ghost of Jacob Marley and McCallum Connell as the Ghost of Christmas present. They both burst onto sage with bundles of energy in those roles.
Asides from the sound issues the technical side of the show was done very well. Due to the set up of the hall it is hard to do anything too complex with the show but tis production is a good example of how simple can be effective. The mood was added to by nature as at the 3pm performance as the show went on the light from the outside faded meaning that by the time we got to the Ghost of Christmas future, by far the scariest of the ghosts the hall was in relative darkness. There were times towards the end of the show where the lighting was possibly a bit too dark. The set itself was kept very simple and with the hall itself you really didn’t need much more of a backdrop. Pieces of furniture helped set the scene and it also ensured that the momentum of the show was not slowed for unnecessary set changes.
Antic Dispositions production of A Christmas Carol is one worth seeing for the setting alone. If you are looking for a truly Dickensian afternoon in London then this production is a solid festive bet.
A Christmas Carol is running until 29th December at Middle Temple.