A Christmas Carol 'frees the audience to face many difficult truths that we still face today'
- Lorna Irvine
- 30 November 2018
The perennial morality tale returns, and is still of the zeitgeist
Few morality tales endure like Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with its universal themes of poverty, family and the changing mindsets for the greater good. Such motifs are safe in the hands of the Citizens Theatre (now of course temporarily relocated to Tramway) whose wry and inventive winter shows are both heart-warming and intelligent.
Benny Young, then, is surely the perfect choice to play capitalist curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge, with his expressive face and seemingly inexhaustible presence. 'I've actually done it before three times with the National Theatre of Scotland,' he says. 'It seems very relevant today. Dominic (Hill, the director) wants you to come out of it feeling good, and there's certainly that, but it frees the audience to face many difficult truths, if you will, that we still face today. I was recently reading the Rowntree Report that one in four children in Scotland are living in poverty. It's quite shocking in the twenty first century, when we're living in a relatively affluent society, you know?'
Young believes that, far from being an ogre of a character, Scrooge is simply a product of his times. He elucidates further: 'I look at Scrooge as a real person. He's practical, within that society. The only thing that makes sense is to make as much money as possible, and to spend as little as possible. I feel that the theatre is a site for making people think and feel.'
Working with Dominic Hill is, Young says, a joy. Most recently, he was in the director's well-received production of Hay Fever. But he's giving nothing away, in terms of what to expect. He simply says, 'Dominic always has a lot of good ideas, and works with the actors' ideas too. And as it's in Tramway, it will be accessible to everyone.'
Tramway, Glasgow, Tue 4 Dec–Sun 6 Jan.