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A Christmas Carol review at Hull Truck Theatre – ‘a fizzy, Dickensian energy’

Christopher Wright in A Christmas Carol at Hull Truck Theatre Christopher Wright in A Christmas Carol at Hull Truck Theatre
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The Ghost of Christmas Present emerges from a gift-wrapped box, her skirt wreathed in festive lights. “I’ve had tinselitis”, she tells us with a wink.

This Victorian music hall-style turn from Polly Lister – complete with groan-worthy gags and a raucous song – breaks up the narrative of this A Christmas Carol.

What had, up to that point, been a spookily atmospheric staging of Dickens’ tale, sees a sledge hammer taken to the fourth wall. Suddenly, we’re in a revue show with cast members backing her up on instruments including a piano and a fiddle.

One of the pleasures of Deborah McAndrew’s adaptation is the fun it has with the source material. For one, the action’s been switched to Hull. While the city’s rarely mentioned in the text, the broad accents, a set which looks like a dockside warehouse and drifts of theatrical smoke – as dense as any pea-souper on the Humber – place it firmly in East Yorkshire.

The lightness of touch is also in Christopher Wright’s turn as Scrooge – whose requisite gloom at the start is offset by some good comic business with his seemingly independently-minded night cap.
While it remains faithful to the story, including chunks of Dickens’ dialogue, Amy Leach’s production isn’t frightened of spinning off into realms of song and dance.

There’s a good slate of numbers by composer John Biddle – not least The Ghost of Christmas Present’s plea for us all to live in the moment – and a fizzy, Dickensian energy throughout.

Hull UK City of Culture to continue as permanent arts company

Verdict
A quirky, comic Hull-set adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic
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