Friday, 20 December 2013
The stage is very simple, the lighting basic and barely any set, just a couple of stools and a small table with some water. A few props which are unused, just for decoration. This production doesn't need anything else, the magic is provided entirely from the moment that Martin Prest begins to speak. The audience is completely transported to a Dickensian land when he opens as the narrator, speaking the words of a Christmas Carol from the version that he has adapted himself.
As soon as he becomes Scrooge, you realise that this is going to be truly special. Most people know the story, Scrooge and humbug have entered the English language as synonyms for party poopers. But these words, as the actor says himself, were written to be read aloud. Dickens was a story teller and this is quite possibly the best piece of story telling that I have ever seen. The second he became Scrooge I was in hysterics, each character was carefully defined by voice, facial expressions, body language and movement. There were even such subtle character traits, the old Scrooge generally held his hands behind his back whereas the flashback to the younger Scrooge showed just one hand behind his back – a hint to the way that he was, the way that he had begun to change before he reached the point that he was at now. This level of attention to detail was evident throughout.
The fact that he had adapted the script himself also enhanced the performance. There were certain lines that you could see he truly enjoyed delivering. The actor's enthusiasm and love of the performance was a pleasure to see and gave such energy to the performance. He went through over twenty characters in the course of an hour and it felt like five minutes. I laughed and I cried – and I know that sounds cliché but unfortunately that is just the truth.
This is truly a magical piece of theatre which will transport you into the Christmas spirit whilst also leaving you in awe of such a talented actor. Children would be enraptured. You really don't want to miss this.
An easy ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A Christmas Carol runs at TheEtcetera Theatre until the 21st December and at The King's Head on 22nd and 23rd December. There are matinee and evening performances.
Martin Prest on Casting Call Pro