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A Christmas Carol review at Athenaeum Theatre, Plymouth – ‘inventive and surreal’

La Navet Bete's A Christmas Carol at Athenaeum Theatre, Plymouth

There is much mirth in Le Navet Bete’s take on A Christmas Carol. Yet, despite  the efforts of the four versatile performers, delivering an array of characters with their  customary pizzazz, John Nicholson’s production is slow to gather momentum.

It isn’t really until the silver Telly Tubby-esque Ghost of Christmas Past, complete with squeaky, helium voice, bursts on stage with a disco routine that the show fulfils its comic potential. Only then do we see the company at its inventive and surreal best, complete with a scene with a ghost giving a spirited rendition of Walking in the Air.

The Spirits of Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come are also  compelling creations, imaginatively portrayed. The first is a tall, affable Irish-accented Christmas tree, the second, a towering black spectre, emerging from a mist backlit by a Dantean red glow. This is the most dramatic image in a set design that otherwise veers towards the frugal.

Much emotional mileage is extracted from Scrooge as we see him  transforming from meanness to a redeeming kindness. A scene of two Cornish miners exchanging presents makes a witty interlude as does the slowly revolving lighthouse, surreally depicted by one performer, with a light and a yellow sou’wester, standing on the shoulders of another. With judicious fine tuning this production could really shine.

Verdict
Inventive and well-performed take on Charles Dickens’ story that doesn’t quite fulfil its comic potential

Production

Production
A Christmas Carol
Venue
Athenaeum Theatre
City
Plymouth
Starts
December 14, 2017
Ends
January 7, 2018
Authors
Le Navet Bete, John Nicholson and Mark Laville
Director
John Nicholson
Choreographer
Jules Laville
Set
Fi Russell
Sound
Peter Coyte
Stage manager
Jamie Smith
Cast includes
Dan Bianchi, Nick Bunt, Al Dunn and Matt Freeman
Producer
La Navet Bete, Barbican Plymouth
Running time
2hrs 15mins