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December 2004
A Christmas Carol
The Cratchits
The Cratchits


A Christmas Carol

The Mirror Tent, BMW Group Plant Oxford

Fri 26th Nov - Sat 8th Jan 2005
Tickets £6.50 - £19.50

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Creation Theatre

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By Alison Ireland

'A Christmas Carol', the latest offering from Oxford's ever-exciting Creation Theatre proved a tremendously heart-warming start to the Advent period. Performed in the Mirror Tent, up in the windswept BMW Plant, coats, scarves and gloves were in profusion among the audience. But they weren't necessary: the Mirror Tent was more than equal to conditions - it transported us nostalgically to a world evocative of cabaret, mulled wine and warmth, and the cold December seemed a distant memory. (The tent is in fact the real thing: one of eleven remaining 'Spiegeltents' in the world, built in 1908 and having played host to Marlene Dietrich among others).

Dickens' novels, with their larger-than-life characters and melodrama always translate well to the stage, and 'A Christmas Carol' was particularly effective with its chain-rattling spectres and scenes of festive merriment. A simple stage-set allowed for slick scene changes, aided by the intelligent use of lighting. As we sat at our elegant round, candlelit tables, the action went on all around us as Creation exploited the spiegeltent's layout for all it was worth.

The acting was consistently compelling, and interspersed with musical interludes (original music, courtesy of Annemarie Lewis Thomas) of singing and dancing which brought the various Christmas tableaux to flamboyant life. Especially strong was Charles Davies as the sanguine Fezziwig, and Matthew Hendrickson as the pathetically misguided and isolated Scrooge.

Dickens wrote 'A Christmas Carol' at a time when Christmas was falling out of fashion- at the beginning of the Victorian period the Industrial Revolution allowed workers little time for its celebration. It has done much to shape the way we think about Christmas today, with its emphasis on human contact, generosity and happiness. Perhaps Dickens is due for a new surge of popularity as the child labour and poor houses of Victorian England are replaced by the isolation and security paranoia of the 21st century. His message, in the expert hands of Creation Theatre, was certainly not lost on the audience last night.

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