By guest critic Laura Vivio
It’s hard to think of a more appropriate show to watch on a cold December day in London, but perhaps impossible if that day happened to be nothing short of the most magical day of the year: seeing this play on Christmas Eve was a real treat, and added another dimension to an experience that would have been jolly to begin with. One of Dicken’s masterpieces, A Christmas Carol is a natural classic for this time of the year, and contributed to creating the very notion of Christmas as we have known it for the past 174 years.
Antic Disposition’s production is a wonderful treat, aided by the fantastic choice of location: the astonishing City of London gem Middle Temple Hall. It is impossible to ignore the history of this place, opened in 1576 by Queen Elizabeth I, The hundreds of ghosts that seem to inhabit the hall, its coats of arms and its empty suits of armour seem to watch us from each and every corner of the building.
The production itself is vibrant and fast-paced, but at times a touch too fast. While some beautiful, moving moments could be explored further and allocated that little extra time, overall the story was told in a wonderfully effective way, in which accomplished musicianship brilliantly complements the fine acting skills of each member of the cast. It is always a pleasure to see actors-musicians on stage, particularly when they manage to execute music and theatre at their very best rather than one at the expense of the other.
Something to note is that the music – albeit marvellously executed and very much in tune (dear readers, please excuse the pun) with the dramatic elements unfolding on stage – was at times too loud for the audience to be able to catch every line of text being spoken. This is not a huge problem with such a well-known story, but something that could be irritating in the context of a more obscure piece of work. The acoustics of the hall are also not ideal in this respect, and the actors should perhaps bear this in mind during their entrances and exits. The lighting design also feels a little lacking, not because things didn’t work – but because they felt to have a potential that wasn’t fully explored.
However, the experience is a terrific one and the perfect addition to any family’s Christmas outing: something that children and adults alike will come out of whistling, humming and singing, in utterly perfect Christmas spirit.
A Christmas Carol runs at Middle Temple Hall through 30 December.
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