A Christmas Carol – Gate Theatre – Review
Until 18th January, 2018
Photos by Ros Kavanagh
This Christmas the Gate has gone quite traditional with their choice of a play for the Yuletide season. A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens and first published in 1843 with illustrations by John Leech. The story will be familiar to most, with its tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an ageing businessman that has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas as he focuses on making money. He is visited by three ghosts who aim to teach him a lesson.
This is a new version of the text which was adapted by Jack Thorne for the stage. Thorne is an English playwright and screenwriter who is known for his work on TV shows such as Shameless and Skins. He’s also dabbled with Hollywood, writing Wonder (starring Julia Roberts) and The Scouting Book for Boys, among others. For the stage, he’s best known for his adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2017. He also wrote the adaptation of ‘Let The Right One In’, which was recently staged at the Abbey. His version of A Christmas Carol was first staged at the Old Vic in 2017, starring Rhys Ifans. Thorne’s version of the tale has some sharp dialogue and a few interesting changes to the original. There is an emphasis on the choices Scrooge spurned and his lost love.
Possibly the most interesting thing about this production is that the theatre itself has been altered. While it is not as dramatic a transformation as their production of Gatsby, the stage has been moved onto an island in the centre of the theatre, with banks of seating on two sides. You can sit where the stage normally is, which is quite a thrill for the theatre nerds out there. The actors enter from four sides which gives the play a fluidity and keeps the audience on their toes.
There is also a musical touch, with a number of carols performed and even a few bouts of bell ringing as the cast perform some festive songs. These are nice interludes and add to the occasion. There is a large cast with 15 actors and constant motion on and off stage. Owen Roe is perfect for the part of Scrooge and is suitably grumpy before his transformation. Hugh O’Conor plays the part of Bob Cratchit with the wide-eyed innocence and common decency that the part demands. The three ghosts are a highlight with Camille O’Sullivan, Fionnula Flanagan and Kate Gilmore all indulging in a touch of the macabre. There’s more than a hint of the three witches from Macbeth about them! If you’re looking for criticisms, the second act feels a little too long but otherwise it’s a fun and inventive production throughout. Director Selina Cartmell has created a production that would warm the coldest of hearts.
Cast Includes Steve Blount, Simone Collins, Muiris Crowley, Caitriona Ennis, Fionnula Flanagan, Fionn Foley, Kate Gilmore, Niamh McCann, Rachel O’Byrne, Hugh O’Conor, Simon O’Gorman, Kevin C. Olohan, Camille O’Sullivan, and Owen Roe.
Director – Selina Cartmell
Set & Lighting Designer – Ciaran Bagnall
Costume Designer – Katie Davenport
Sound Designer – Denis Clohessy
Choreographer – David Bolger
Musical Supervisor – Cathal Synnott
Associate Director – Marc Atkinson