The recent production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol could not have put me in more of a holiday mood. I was greeted at the door with a piping hot mug of mulled wine and a mince pie, and the classic Christmas tune by Shakin Stevens – ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ – was blaring in the background. One of the tech guys was even dressed up in a Santa suit. Venue 1 suddenly felt like home on Christmas Morning – which, amidst redevelopment, I believed to be an almost impossible feat!
I must commend the writer and director, Catriona Scott, first off: her adaptation (written whilst she was at school!) was funny and clever with a modern twist. Set in Scrooge and Marley Estate Agents here in St. Andrews, the script was packed full of jokes the audience and I could immediately identify with about high rent prices and the Lizard. Catriona also did well to use the three tiered stage to its full potential. The audience was taken to a number of different settings and the different levels allowed for swift movement between them.
Lead actress Sarah Pollock, playing the role of Elizabeth Scrooge, was simply wonderful. Sarah was able to make the audience hate her, pity her and love her all in the space of 90 minutes! That’s a real talent from an actress faced with an audience of tired, spaced-out students. Furthermore, I’ve always been jealous of actors who are able to cry on cue – and Sarah definitely proved she has a talent for that too. She suited the character and script incredibly well and brought out the full potential of the role throughout her performance.
There are many of the cast that are worthy of praise and mention, but I have to applaud Matthew Colley in his role as Rob Crachit specifically. He provided a lot of the comic relief (and some top notch dance moves) whilst also making the audience crumble inside with sadness for him. A special mention must also go out to Bennett Bensi – who, after a last minute cast change, did a great job as Tim Crachit. In fact, the whole Crachit family (Hannah Ritchie and Lottie Haswell-West) did a fantastic job, even making me shed a tear at one point (which never happens)!
I could certainly tell that the cast was a closely knit. In all of the scenes where a number of people were on stage I could tell that they weren’t just enjoying being part of the production, but that they were also truly enjoying each other’s company. There is a moment in the second act where Scrooge, taken by the Ghost of Christmas Present, looks in on a game of Charades – and after a while is desperate to join in; I wanted to, too. I don’t know if the person sitting next to me heard me shout ‘TITANIC!’ but what I do know is that the friendliness and fun this cast exuded whilst on stage makes me want to invite them all around for a game night on Christmas Eve.
Congratulations to all involved!