The “snow” that fell at the end of Hull Truck Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol, on Tuesday evening, was the icing on a quite unusual theatrical cake.
There can’t be anyone alive today who doesn’t know Charles Dickens’ story of the miserly Scrooge and his visitations from three spirits which leads to him changing his greedy ways.
Well, in a rather novel move, British Sign Language (BSL) runs throughout this production, having two deaf actors in lead roles.
Hull-born Adam Bassett (Bob Cratchit) and Emma Prendergast (Mrs Cratchit) used sign language to communicate, as did the rest of the cast, who must be congratulated on their BSL skills.
Also, to be congratulated are the set and costume designers who created the perfect atmosphere of wealth, hardship, fun, fear and sadness. The dim lighting and effective music played their part in bringing this ageless story to life.
Setting the story in Hull was another diversion away from the original.
It’s Christmas Eve and Cratchit asks his boss, Scrooge (Jack Lord), for Christmas Day off. Scrooge reluctantly agrees and the stage setting then jumps to him getting ready for bed that night.
The ghost of Scrooge’s late partner, Jacob Marley (Andrew Whitehead) appears, dripping in heavy chains, each link relating to someone in need whom Marley refused to help in life.
Marley warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three Spirits, in the hope they will make him change his ways, so he won’t end up weighed down in the afterlife, as he is.
The three spirits – Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future – do the trick and it’s no spoiler to say it is a happy ending all round.
Christmas Past (Cynthia Emeagi) lights up the stage in a wonderfully illuminated dress and in very colourful scenes she shows Scrooge how much fun he had as an apprentice for his old boss, a Mr Fezziwig (a dual role for Whitehead).
Mrs Fezziwig (Lisa Howard) added to the fun and Scrooge starts to enjoy the scenes until he sees his ex-fiancée Belle (another role for Prendergast) releasing him from their engagement, due to his love of gold, over his love for her.
Christmas Present (a dual role for Howard) was a highlight for me. Dressed in mismatched colours with a head of wild, red hair, she was a scream and we in the packed theatre willingly joined in with her shenanigans. Oh yes, we did.
Another laugh-out-loud scene had Scrooge’s nephew Fred (Mark Donald), Dick Wilkins (Jordan Castle) and the aforementioned Whitehead showing their fast and furious footwork. Impressive stuff, lads.
Lastly, Christmas Future was a scary figure with no face who showed Scrooge a future that was minus Tiny Tim.
The acting by everyone on the night was superb, including the youngsters whose names I’m not privy to, but who hail from the Hull Truck Youth Theatre and St Charles Primary School in the city.
However, even though my husband is hearing impaired, I have to admit the BSL distracted me somewhat. But, if it helps to raise Deaf awareness, that can’t be a bad thing.
Running until Saturday, December 31st, 2022. Tickets from £10. Morning, afternoon and evening performances on different days. For more information or to book, call (01482) 323638 or visit www.hulltruck.co.uk
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 29th November 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★