A lively semi-staged reading adapted by James Hutchison and streamed on YouTube via Zoom, this seventh showcase in aid of Acting for Others is a fine addition to the hundreds of adaptations of A Christmas Carol you can watch this season.
Nicholas Le Provost, Anna Carteret, John Craggs and Jonathan Tafler lead the cast and bring all of Dickens’s characters to life, while the adaptation adds a few twists and turns we may not have seen before. It all adds to the freshness of the familiar.
Christmas, and the saving of it, is the central message of this story, as Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts (four, if you count the spirit of Marley, squarely presented here as the villain of the piece), who show him his past, present, and future. Although a reading, there are moments of emotion as this old miser (played beautifully by Le Provost) connects with the shadows which shaped him.
I was engrossed throughout at the delivery and performances, and there are moments of costuming and setting where clear thought has gone into what we see on screen. A constant feel of Victorian Gothic comes through the low lighting, the music and sound effects (those chilling, ethereal voices), and the constant feeling of gloom and grime.
Director Jonathan Kydd keeps a socially apart cast together and committed to the show; if there is the occasional line flub it hardly matters, and every performance counts. Susannah May is a deeply affecting Belle, and Chris Beck’s Bob Cratchit catches the measure of a man doomed to poverty.