Wednesday, 9 December 2015

THEATRE | A CHRISTMAS CAROL (ROSE THEATRE KINGSTON)*

Although Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol is one of the most popular tales to have ever been written (the novella has never once gone out of print since it's first publication in 1843), I must sadly confess that I'd never had the pleasure of witnessing it in any form. Hence I feel throughly blessed that my first time seeing it was through Rose Theatre's production as it was an entirely magical affair that exceeded all my expectations. A Christmas Carol tells the story of a miserable old man named Ebenezer Scrooge, who despises most things but especially Christmas. He lives alone, hoards his money, is exceptionally rude to others and basically cares only for himself, shutting everyone else out of his life. One night, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old business partner Jacob Marley, who tells him that he three more spirits will come to him in the consequent nights: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and finally The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The corresponding spirits show him visions of all the different Christmas times, delving into his past to show him the man he once was, then showing him how the people he shunned in his present life spend their Christmas, and although they aren't the most well off, they are happy because they are surrounded by family and friends. Finally, the last ghost shows him what may happen in the future, how people react to his death and how the only thing they care about in the end is his material possessions and how much money they can make out of them. Throughout his journey with the spirits, Scrooge's personality starts to change as he reflects on his misbehaviour and how much he doesn't want to end up like the despised human being he sees in the future. Ultimately he realises that in order for others to care about him, he must first turn his attention and time to others.

Rose Theatre sits close to the river in the borough of Kingston which is just about a half hour train ride from London. It was my first time ever visiting Kingston and I fell in love with the town (one of my best friends lives and goes to university here), it's small and quaint yet seems to house every shop imaginable so I don't think you'd ever get bored or run out of things to do. It was a cold, blustery day when I came to visit but the Christmas markets were open and I spent the afternoon shopping and walking along the beautiful riverside. The most convenient thing about Kingston has to be that every place is within walking distance and it didn't take long for me to locate the theatre. It's quite a modern setup that seats 899 people. Upon entering, I was quite surprised at how big the stage and the space inside was. On top of stall and two tiers of circle seats, there's also a pit area where you can sit on the floor (with free cushion hire available too, major props). The doors open 30 minutes before the play starts and while audience members take to their seats, several children in costume and character walk amongst us, pretending to beg for money or to converse with us,
"What's that?" asks one little girl holding a basket of herbs, pointing to my programme, "I haven't seen anything like that before!"


As soon as the lights dim, the atmosphere crackles even before anything happens on stage, the backdrop of old London town projected with an eerie mist effect and the lights in the auditorium flickering. The production is impressive, the props effectively carried in and out of scenes in a seamless transition by the actors who are clad in detailed individual costumes that really transport us to that particular time and place. The music and sound effects really round up the atmosphere and the ensemble singing is gorgeous. There's a quite a dark and gothic feel to the production which pleases me a great deal (The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come's faceless costume was like a dream straight out of Alexander McQueen's runway). I was wondering how children would take to this play though as it could come across as rather frightening. As almost half of the audience were kids, I mere had to cast my eye around to find out. In fact, the young girl sitting right in front of me initially seemed distressed by the loud bangs, spirit effects and dark costumes but after her mother gave her scarf to hide behind and reassured her, she seemed to forget and after a while became too engrossed in the story to remember why she was frightened in the first place. It helps that there's a lot of comedic banter between the characters that guaranteed some real laugh out loud moments that effectively cut through the gloom. Martin Ball does a fantastic job in the lead role, portraying Scrooge's emotional journey perfectly. Most of the adult cast actually played a few characters each which was quite impressive. The ones that stood out to me most were the amazingly talented ensemble cast that were all played by children from Rose Youth Theatre. They were all spectacular and super professional which definitely sets the bar for young actors everywhere, you can definitely tell those kids will go far.

I walked out of the theatre with a thoroughly warm heart and I couldn't recommend this adaptation of A Christmas Carol enough if you are looking for some festive fun with the family. I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on what Rose Theatre have to offer next and am looking forward to my next trip to Kingston already! A Christmas Carol is on until the 3rd of January 2016 and you can book tickets here.

*Complimentary press night tickets were given to me courtesy of Rose Theatre Kingston but I am under no obligation to write this post and as always, all thoughts, views and love for theatre are strictly my own.

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6 comments

  1. Awww, this genuinely sounds like a great production! I used to live quite near to Kingston, but it was a few years before I started going to the theatre, which is a shame! But I'll definitely have to go to the Rose Theatre sometime.

    Meg | A Little Twist Of…

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  2. I am hoping I can get tickets as this looks and sounds like an incredible performance, I adore the book and the films but this genuinely looks even better, I do love theatre xxx

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  3. Oh how awesome! I have always wanted to see a production of A Christmas Carol.
    the-creationofbeauty.blogspot.com

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  4. your photos from this performance are so good, I feel like I was really in the audience!

    secret-hipster.blogspot.com/

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  5. I am actually attending to go see this play at my nearest theater and I love it so much that I cannot wait to go see it. Is actually like a tradition to go see it every year.

    X, Ruth Sarai
    This was amazing! For a moment I felt like I was there. Is this an excerpt from a book or article or was this your own. Because I loved this so much.

    X, Ruth Sarai
    http://stuck-in-rewind.blogspot.com

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  6. I'd not seen A Christmas Carol before either (apart from the Looney Tunes version haha) but I'd love to see this! It looks fab, love your photos x

    Josie | Sick Chick Chic

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