Dundee Rep's ensemble brings traditional merriment, live music and pathos to A Christmas Carol (3 stars)

Panto Review: A Christmas Carol

credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Charming family festive show that re-imagines the curmudgeon Ebeneezer Scrooge as a woman

After a slightly shaky start (thanks to a couple of sound problems and a wayward door) Dundee Rep's excellent ensemble bring traditional merriment, live music and pathos to the Dickens classic morality tale. It's suitable for all, and never too frightening for children.

This version, adapted by Neil Duffield and deftly directed by Andrew Panton, re-imagines the curmudgeon Ebeneezer Scrooge as a woman, with a nod to the heartache she suffered in her youth after a thwarted love affair. Ann Louise Ross is a formidable presence as Mistress Scrooge, misanthropy tucked into the hem of her mighty frockcoat. Ably supporting her are Emily Winter and Ewan Donald as the Crachits, who possess just the right amount of cynicism as they lament their miserly employer and her assertion that poor people only serve to 'decrease the surplus population'.

There are many lovely flourishes in the staging, with a floating bed, clawing hands popping out from bedsheets during Scrooge's hallucinations and a flaming tombstone as the ultimate omen - a warning to soften her heart. EJ Boyle's choreography lightens the mood, even if there is a propensity towards sentimentality at times.

However, there is plenty of heart, and it's a true misery guts who couldn't warm to Winter's gorgeous and elegiac version of 'In The Bleak Midwinter'. A story as pertinent now as ever, and as elegant as it is engaging.

Dundee Rep Theatre, until Sun 31 Dec.

A Christmas Carol

Dickens' festive fable, adapted for stage by Neil Duffield. Dundee Rep’s ensemble bring the colourful cast of characters to life, including Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley, Mrs Fezziwig, Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge.