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Theatre Review: A Christmas Carol--Dundee Rep ****

Joy Watters reviews 'a lovely piece of theatre' that returns Christmas cheer to Dundee Rep.

Deck the halls! Dundee Rep is staging the quintessential Christmas story this year with Dickens’ celebrated novella. Director Andrew Panton, producing his first Christmas show for the theatre, has wisely changed the Rep’s recent habit of performing shows with no resonance of the season of good will.

In a stage adaptation by Neil Duffield, it is a big, loud, sprawling piece with music dominating throughout. Claire McKenzie’s score is a lovely re-working of a host of traditional Christmas music but is played so loudly it muffles the singing and the speaking of the talented cast.

On the plus side, it creates a strong feel-good factor to set against Dickens’ hard-edged commentary on the huge divide between rich and poor, particularly child poverty. The ensemble gives it their all, as mean old Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his partner Marley and then the three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and To Be, coming to the realisation that he can be a force for good and help the poor.

The casting of a woman as Scrooge, ensemble founding member Ann Louise Ross, has a strange effect. Scrooge is no longer initially all vile miser and inhuman employer but also a baffled little soul, amidst all her `bahs’ and `humbugs’ lies the poignancy of the lonely.

Designer Richard Evans’ set comprises all the settings and elements of the tale, incredibly detailed, perhaps a little impeding at times as we see the oppressed Bob Cratchit at work and home with a wonderful wee Tiny Tim to pull at the heartstrings.

It is lovely piece of theatre overall with director Andrew Panton to be congratulated for bringing Christmas cheer to the Rep.

Runs at Dundee Rep until December 31.

Tags: theatre

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