European Arts Company put their faith in audiences when deciding to mount a one-man production of ‘A Christmas Carol’. Staging shows with flashy bells and whistles have become such common place that stripping all that away feels like a daring and bold move. Can this classic with its time travelling narrative and diverse range of characters be faithfully told with only one man and minimal props? Despite initial apprehensions, I can report that it worked terrifically.
When the miserly Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who take him to Christmases in his past, present and future, he realises that with age he’s lost sight of what matters in life and his ice-cold heart begins to thaw. Performer John O’Connor retells this well-known tale in a confident address to the audience. Directed by Peter Craze, O’Connor plays the role of the Narrator and each of the other multiple characters in this enveloping story. With the turn of the head, or change in direction, O’Connor slips in and out of the various parts with astonishing ease. It’s a captivating solo performance.
The lighting design and use of projection is fairly light touch and serves mostly to convey changes in scenes. Above all, the production rightfully trusts that the audience’s imagination coupled with the rich words of Dickens, are powerful enough to bring the story to life.
Despite being written in 1843, the Victorian story carries much resonance in 2019. ‘A Christmas Carol’ asks us to reflect on the plight of those in society who are less fortunate and challenges us to engage and embrace the community around us rather than withdraw from it.