A Christmas Carol at Tramway, Glasgow
- Lorna Irvine
- 11 December 2018
Dominic Hill's revival is timely, eccentric and moving
This adaptation of Neil Bartlett's take on the Dickens classic, last staged at the Citz in 2014, is a wonderful morality tale which is wildly inventive. Benny Young's lugubrious Ebenezer Scrooge is no mere curmudgeon, and it's a testament to his performance that he makes the miser a sympathetic, slightly pathetic figure whose lack of care for his employees is rooted in his own familial neglect as a lad.
Meanwhile, Rachael Canning's macabre Gothic puppets, costumes and set design bring something of the Grand Guignol amid all the Christmas merrymaking. There's something genuinely disturbing in a doll with a light where a face should be. Sound effects are deployed to immense effect, reminiscent of the Foley artists of early theatre, cinema and radio days.
The excellent ensemble bring effortless pathos and joy, particularly Jamie Marie Leary, Andy Clark and a riotous Peter Collins, all in a number of roles and donning increasingly ridiculous outfits.
With such ambition to the fore, there's often the risk of too much clutter, but Dominic Hill's direction ensures the pace is, as the song lyrics go, 'deep and crisp and even'.Themes of poverty and loss are never buried beneath the carol singing, and feel more poignant for it.
Tramway, Glasgow until 6 Jan 2019.