Review by Ben Stefanoff

A Christmas Carol is a story that has become a part of Christmas time for many of us. Whether it’s the original novel by Charles Dickens or one of the many film adaptations, it is a well-known tale. For their final season of 2020, the Adelaide Repertory Theatre presents a new, reworked version of this timeless tale.

Charles Dickens’ original novel tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy miser who hates Christmas, but is transformed into a caring, kindly person through the visitations of four ghosts. This reworked version by Patrick Barlow (writer of the Broadway and West End hit The 39 Steps), captures the heart of the original classic, but weaves in humour, references to social justice, and puppets.

Director Megan Dansie has assembled the perfect cast for this production. Each scene is carefully blocked to bring out the humour of Barlow’s script, but never letting it go too far. Dansie has done a fine job keeping the pace of the show moving from scene to scene, and the simple, yet effective, set design aids this.

In the central role, Tony Busch perfectly plays Ebenezer Scrooge, approaching the role with great depth and complexity. His versatility as an actor shines through as his character changes towards the end of the play.  

Matt Houston, Georgia Stockham, Laura Antoniazzi, David Salter, Jacqui Maynard and Max Rayner play all the remaining characters. They work as a tight ensemble, slipping between characters with ease, never dropping an accent or the mannerisms unique to the character they are portraying. Antoniazzi, Stockham and Salter as the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future (as well as a myriad of other characters) are a highlight.

Lighting design by Richard Parkhill and sound design by Ray Trowbridge both add extra depth to this production.

As we head into another Christmas season, it is well worth heading to the Arts Theatre to see this modernised version of A Christmas Carol and remind ourselves that, whilst it can be ‘the silly season’, it also is a time to reflect on all the things that are important to us.

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