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Theatre Review: A Christmas Carol--Pitlochry Festival Theatre ****

Joy Watters reviews 'a festive entertainment not to be missed'.

Pitlochry’s new adaptation is a beautiful looking version of Dickens’ classic story which weaves the original tale with a modern take to wonderful effect. Isobel McArthur has adapted the tale to suit an audience right across the board, from Dickens’ purists to those encountering it for the first time.

Her approach, coupled with Ben Occhipinti’s stylish direction, ensures that the storytelling is gripping and moving, funny and heart-warming. Music has a large role to play from traditional carols to contemporary jazz style, all performed by the talented cast. A chorus of carollers one minute, they also bring to life those that people the world of miserable old miser Scrooge.

The poor, armed with an indefatigable generosity of spirit, are shown making the most of the little they have determined to celebrate Christmas. It is a timeous reminder of the poverty that still afflicts society.

Stunningly lit (Rory Beaton) and designed (Anna Orton), a corridor of streetlights adapts to create pools of darkness emphasising the chilling appearance of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and the future.

Set against the apparitions’ scariness is a seam of humour with jokes and wisecracks abounding and that lovely singing and music ever present. The mood of the original work is intact illuminated with contemporary touches.

Colin McCredie never quite gets the measure of the loathsome miser Scrooge undergoing a Christmas epiphany. Instead of initially displaying the overbearing character’s callousness and cruelty, McCredie seems rather shy and retiring. The contrast from overbearing heartless beast to reformed caring character is absent.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Ali Watt’s Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s downtrodden employee ever loyal to his monstrous boss.

It’s a festive entertainment not to be missed.

Runs at Pitlochry Festival Theatre until December 23.

Tags: theatre

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