CHRISTMAS has come early to the Connaught Theatre, getting the audience into the festive spirit before the panto season starts.
Emmerdale star Peter Amory, who has become somewhat of a familiar face at the Worthing theatre recently, returns as Christmas grump Ebenezer Scrooge in Ian Dickens Productions’ A Christmas Carol.
This new adaptation by Nicola Boyce has some exciting modern elements mixed with period costumes and atmospheric live music, bringing the whole thing together as a pleasant festive feast.
It is a somewhat scaled down version, being only one hour 40 minutes, without the interval, meaning some parts of the story seemed a bit rushed. For instance, there was a lengthy exchange as Belle told young Ebenezer she had had enough of his love for money over her, yet we had never really seen them even together as a couple.
The need for a total of 25 scene changes led to some clever carpentry and on the whole the shifting in and out of small rooms worked. However, at the start, it confined the action to about a third of the stage at Scrooge’s office and I personally felt we could easily have visualised it, even if they had used the whole stage.
The most remarkable piece of theatre comes in the opening of the second half – a stunning, masked, musical piece that stood out for its innovation, though it felt out of place amongst the whole.
There were a few technical issues, like the voice of Marley’s Ghost being echoed to a degree that it was impossible to understand, but then this was the opening night of the whole run, so forgiveable.
The audience reaction showed all had enjoyed it, with some enthusiastic applause.
A Christmas Carol runs at the Connaught Theatre until Saturday, November 26, with a matinée at 2pm, on Thursday at 10.30am and Saturday at 2.30pm.
By Elaine Hammond