Thursday, June 20

A Christmas Carol, The Festive Audio Experience – Harrogate Theatre

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is as much a part of Christmas as tinsel and mince pies. A festive tale that people often forget is a ghost story, Adam Z Robinson’s adaptation, performed by him and Olivia Dowd, utilises Robinson’s expertise as a ghost story writer to bring the spirits and apparitions littering Dickens’ classic tale front and centre, creating a creepy and memorable version of this beloved tale of greed and redemption.

Before the show starts, ominous ticking and a crackling fire create the atmosphere before the performance begins. The audio play has a very creepy opening, which makes it clear from the start the style that this version of A Christmas Carol is going to take.

Robinson’s narration is warm and gives the story the feeling of an old friend you see every Christmas which contrasts well with the unhappy opening of the piece. The story is told in the present tense, a lovely touch which draws you into the story and creates a brilliant atmosphere which will leave you shivering as Robinson takes you along the frozen, snowy streets of Victorian London. A visual background of flickering candles with various paraphernalia throughout the piece are a gentle nod to the various plot points and haunting versions of familiar Christmas Carols add depth and poignancy to the piece.

Robinson and Dowd’s vocal talents are fully exploited as they create each of the tale’s characters as full and unique individuals. The portrayal of Scrooge is particularly effective, with him sounding as sick as Tiny Tim thanks to his cold and mean lifestyle during the beginning of the story.

The audio drama medium feels particularly relevant after this year where much of theatre has been streamed onto a screen in our quiet homes. The story also feels particularly poignant as many people remain unable to come together to celebrate Christmas as Fred and Bob’s families do.

A Christmas Carol remains a fascinating story and this adaptation is mesmerising. Even the Ghost of Christmas Present, portrayed as a jolly figure in many adaptations, is a little creepy as he quietly takes us through an emotional scene at the Cratchits before finally exposing the horrific evils of Ignorance and Want. 

It doesn’t matter that you know what’s coming when the tale reaches its bright and hopeful ending. This is a timeless story of Christmas, family and togetherness which remains painfully applicable to today’s world. A rollercoaster of emotions as varied and dizzying as Ebenezer’s own transformation, this adaptation will make you laugh, cry and glance around your house with uncertainty as you try to work out whether you heard a bell ring.

A Christmas Carol – The Festive Audio Experience is being streamed by Harrogate Theatre until 23rd December 2020. Tickets are available here  

Reviewer: Donna M Day

Reviewed: 19th December 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★