A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
could more or less be praised as a good show but one element surpassed all the rest – its star.

Starlight Theatre Co-op
Centre Stage Theatre, Brisbane

Thursday, 19 November, 2009

A Christmas Carol could more or less be praised as a good show but one element surpassed all the rest – its star.

Norman Doyle absolutely encapsulated the “Bah! Humbug!” grump of Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge. He captured the essence of this character so well it can only be described as a complete metamorphosis into the role.

On the night of Christmas Eve Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his long-dead business partner, Jacob Marley. He warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits, and that if he does not seize the opportunity to change, his soul will be forever haunted by his life of greed and anti-Christmas spirit. A total cynic, Scrooge and the spirits have a challenging task ahead. But once visited by the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, Scrooge begins to question his life of selfishness, and soon changes to be a kind, considerate and tender man who signifies the spirit of Christmas.

Well-rounded performances, a nicely put-together and attractive set, along with bold and eye-catching costumes allowed this production to reach a sound level of theatrical quality. However, while the show ran smoothly, some tidying would have sharpened things up. There were often distractions from the central theme of this classic when numerous unidentified characters would appear for background presence only, reciting lines – that I’m positive are all in the script – but tended to make little sense in this production. Also, some cluttered action on stage at times made things seem a little all-over-the-place. A more clean-cut display would have brought the story better into focus.

Doyle was a picture of Scrooge from his stance to his frown, and while he stole the show there were some other good performances also. Gary McEwen certainly had a great old-time look with his hair and beard, and was hearty in his main role as Bob Cratchit. Scrooge’s nephew was played well by Nick Hollamby, who also had the stand-out voice among the singers, along with Kaisha-Lee Durban. Chris Vaag as the ghost of Christmas present was charmingly vibrant and eccentric.

As mentioned, set and costumes were a great success thanks to Tim Wallace, Shane Rodwell and Que Bigg. Attire was constantly changing to meet the needs of the show’s enormous 70 roles. Bright colours and interesting designs looked well-made and were consistent refreshment in scene changes.  
This production is different. It brings something new and interesting to the festive season that thankfully doesn’t include too many carols or candle-light. I recommend it as a way to kick-off the Christmas celebrations in 2009.

Season Closed

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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