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A Christmas Carol review at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire – ‘an atmospheric setting’

Scene from A Christmas Carol at Berkeley Castle Scene from A Christmas Carol at Berkeley Castle

The family of Tom Berkeley, co-founder of Guildford-based Split Second Productions, have lived in the fortress-like Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire since the 12th century. What better setting then than its resplendent Great Hall for the company`s strikingly fresh delivery of Charles Dickens` A Christmas Carol.

Right from the riveting playing of the opening line – “Jacob Marley was dead” – this contemporary adaptation by executive producer Ross White epitomises the company`s youthful approach, while simultaneously paying full regard to Dickens` message of compassion and forgiveness.

Played without an interval, Scrooge is guided to redemption by an outstanding five-strong cast, with a mix of 21st century dialogue and traditional Christmas music, which they perform with impressive skill on instruments ranging from hand bells to glass harps.

Lukas Lee, as Ebenezer Scrooge, moves commandingly from curmudgeon to Christmas benefactor. Dan Wheeler`s intoxicated Ghost of Christmas Present is a telling metaphor for some of today`s more wretched festive celebrations, and Grace Liston and Ruby Hamilton, both making professional debuts, join Hippolyte Poirier in an impressive array of doubling and trebling amid their musical responsibilities.

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Verdict
A bold and entertaining modern approach to a Christmas evergreen, enhanced by an atmospheric and historic setting
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