REVIEW: A Christmas Carol @ The Bolton Octagon

Marc Small       Pic: The Other Richard

A Christmas Carol is a timeless classic tale of of redemption which is familiar to almost everyone. It has been done so many times that it is a brave person indeed who decides to attempt to bring it to the stage and make it fresh.

But it is mission accomplished for the Bolton Octagon team who have managed to pull off something quite remarkable for their Christmas production this year.

Bolton writer, Neil Duffield, who adapted the Charles Dickens masterpiece for the stage, is no stranger to children’s productions – and it shows. There is the perfect blend of Dickens’ dark message, playful humour and festive spectacle which makes this just right for children of all ages.

The structure of the story brings a freshness which delight the audience. Dickens’ words come spinning at us through the decades and are remarkably apt. If I’m not mistaken Duffield adds some themes of his own about Scrooge’s cruel observations about the homeless “choosing to sleep” in shop doorways.

The staging is wonderful with some marvellous effects which don’t go over the top and Ben Occhipinti’s direction brings a pace to the the story which has you glancing your watch when we reach the interval, thinking “is it that time already”

Marc Small is excellent as the dour despicable miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, haunted by four ghosts whose task it is to make him see the error of his ways.

We are so familiar with the story we know the outcome, but it is what we encounter on the journey which makes this show such a joy. Special mention has to go to Sue Davaney whose portrayals as the Spirit of Christmas Present, the Charity Lady and Mrs Fezziwig are forces of nature.

A real treat to get you in the festive mood.

Runs till January 13.

Dave Toomer

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