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A Christmas Carol review at Theatre Delicatessen Picton Place London

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Onstage cameras, television screens and 24-hour surveillance worked well in a pastiche of an all-encroaching police state in the National’s Hamlet earlier this year and, with similar tricks, the same can be said of this interpretation of Dickens’ Christmas classic.

Rory Kinnear proved that a balding actor could capture the tragedy of a prince nearly half his age in Hamlet. And here, a younger (but balder) Tom Daplyn fills the ‘bah humbug’ boots of the angry old Scrooge without any suggestion he is too young or out of his depth. Daplyn’s performance is supreme – full of guile that makes you laugh when he is dishing out anti-season maxims, brave when he is thrust into the intimate audience, but also understated, pathetic even, when he realises his life is little more than misery. Daplyn surely has a bright future for bigger stages.

On that subject, Katherine Heath’s set design is impeccable. From Marley’s (Christopher Warren) prophetic warning – a blurred image of a face flitting across old TV sets at the back of the stage – to the exercise bike that powers the set’s lighting, this is an ingenious evocation of Scrooge’s greed in a modern context.

Free mulled wine and the smell of gunpowder in the air is lovely, Jonathan Saunders as the Ghosts is full of originality and the understated ensemble cast lets Daplyn rule. Sadly, we never see a shrivelling Tiny Tim, but that is the only blip in a golden show.

Production Information

Theatre Delicatessen, Picton Place, London, November 30-December 24

Charles Dickens, adapted by Pete Wrench
Jessica Jordan-Wrench
Leo Steele, Nicholas Thompson, .dash, Tacit Theatre
Cast includes
Tom Daplyn, Jonathon Saunders, Christopher Warren
Running time
1hr 40mins

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