On a bare stage there is a solitary chair, with a raincoat suspended in mid-air to one side. That’s all the setting required for this one-man retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Celebrating his 25th season on the Edinburgh Fringe with no less than four productions, Guy Masterson may not be the first person to bring a one-man Dickens to the stage, but it might be a first for this summer festival.
The familiar characters are all present and correct and Masterson slips easily from one to the other. His Scrooge sounds refreshingly robust – not unlike Ray Winstone – but this abridged adaptation is a thing of beauty, rich in descriptive detail and emotional impact. The actor brings warmth and genuine Christmas spirit to Fezziwig’s party, with even a brief nod to a same-sex relationship. At the other end of the story, the Cratchits’ Christmas feast is a bustling affair, busy with chatter, good cheer and of course, Tiny Tim’s homespun philosophies.
To lend atmosphere, Masterson wears a radio mic, which lends volume and echo to the Spirits voices but other than some sensitive lighting, there is nowhere for the actor to hide. Masterson defiantly fills the stage however and holds the audience rapt from beginning to end.