DELIGHTFUL PRE-CHRISTMAS FARE
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by Charles Dickens
Presented by Ray Henwood
at Circa Two, Wellington
From 7 Dec 2012 to 22 Dec 2012
Reviewed by Lynn Freeman, 14 Dec 2012
originally published in Capital Times
It's a ritual – playing the 1977 TV version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol starring the late Michael Hordern and John Le Mesurier. It feels even older than that, very basic sfx for the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, but that's a great part of its charm. Dickens doesn't need Weta Digital to make his words and characters speak to us still.
Ray Henwood's solo show is even more literal than my much loved TV version. He reads the short story, acting out big chunks of it. It was a delight to hear lines I'd forgotten and which ended up on the cutting room floor when my beloved TV version went to air. To be honest though, this theatre production would work just as well if not better as a radio play with Henwood's glorious voice the real star of the production.
The direction is workmanlike, but the standing up and sitting down at the lectern as Henwood flits between Scrooge and the visitors to his dark and cold office is clumsy and distractingly noisy.
The images of the spirits are projected onto a sheet which does the trick, though it is limiting for the actor who has to turn away from us to address them.
As pre-Christmas fare, it is a delightful couple of hours away from the craziness of sales, shopping and parties, and a reminder of the real spirit of Christmas.
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Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media]