A Christmas Carol (4 stars)

A Christmas Carol

Photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Christopher Fairbank excels as Ebeneezer Scrooge in Andrew Panton and Neil Duffield's stage adap

Director Andrew Panton’s joyously faithful version of Dickens’ Christmas classic could be used as a definition of the word ‘timeless’. That’s sad to note, though, if the message of this show is that greed endures just as much as charity. It’s difficult to imagine those who wield financial power in the 21st century being as moved by visions of the poor Cratchit family with their lame son and a meagre turkey for the Christmas table as Ebenezer Scrooge is.

Panton’s take on Neil Duffield’s adaptation is vivacious and wrapped up tight in a blanket of seasonal sentiment, which brings a sense of childlike wonder without appearing over-sentimental. Alex Lowde’s set is versatile, arranging internally lit miniature cardboard houses at its fringes and making a centrepiece of a big four-poster bed on castors, which finds itself pressed into a variety of uses.

An eight-strong roll call of Scots theatre talent (plus three young actors) do the piece proud, from the bellicose amusement of Lewis Howden playing Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Past in overblown fashion, to a repertoire of Christmas carols and standards performed in a lively choral style. Of course, the show rests on Scrooge’s shoulders, and here it’s carried wonderfully by Christopher Fairbank as a winningly human old tyrant.

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 4 Jan.

A Christmas Carol trailer

A Christmas Carol

Adapted by Neil Duffield and directed by Andrew Panton, the classic Dickens Yuletide tale gets the Lyceum treatment.

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