Sunday, July 3

December – Old Red Lion Theatre

Bag of Beard Collective in conjunction with ORL Theatre serves up this quirky, sometimes sinister but ultimately highly enjoyable show written and directed by ORL artistic director Alexander Knott.

The play is basically another take on the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol but instead of Scrooge taking centre stage, Knott cleverly focuses on the ever put upon and downtrodden Bob Cratchit (Ryan Hutton). Knott imagines him taking a journey to possible futures ahead, through encounters with vagabonds, spirits and ghosts.

For fans of the Dicken’s characters there is definitely some fun to be had in this inventive adaptation and even though it has its very dark and sometimes quite surreal moments (think disco sparkle flairs, Bowies Fashion and Cuban heels) you cannot deny the sheer energy and imaginative verve that Knott brings to the proceedings.

Hutton as Cratchit gives an outstanding and perfectly pitched performance as Bob and he is joined by the excellent Freya Sharp who plays various roles within Cratchit’s story.

December is largely a play about hope and never was a play more needed in these last dark darks of December. Knott’s script is sharp and witty in turn and always nods to the gothic template of the original Christmas Carol. We are never far away from the shadows that inhabit the landscape of Scrooge and his ghosts.

On occasion the soundtrack does seem to overwhelm certain moments in the play but this is just a very minor issue and shouldn’t distract from the actual performance itself

The camera direction by Charles Flint is exemplary, seemingly moving with great fluidity and capturing every moment and nuance of Cratchit’s cathartic journey to his Happy Christmas.

This is a play to savour in these extraordinarily challenging and difficult times and all credit to Knott and his company for pulling this Christmas treat out of the magic hat. 

Reviewer: Kiefer Williams

Reviewed: 20th December 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

December is available to watch online until January 5th 2021

All profit will be donated to Hackney Winter Night Shelter, a charity specifically aiming to provide a route out of homelessness and sleeping rough during the coldest time of year.