Kavita Ashton reviews A Christmas Carol, which is back for the 2019 festive season at Bristol Old Vic Theatre until 12 January after last year's record-breaking run. 

A Christmas Carol at Bristol Old Vic 2019 press image

Image credit: Geraint Lewis

It’s a story that needs no introduction – you’ve probably seen it on stage, read the book and watched the film, at least a dozen times. But that doesn’t matter one bit. The version of A Christmas Carol that Tom Morris and the theatre whizzes at Bristol Old Vic have magicked up has all the warm cosy familiarity of the best Christmas traditions mixed up with new, imaginative touches.

Ebenezer Scrooge is, of course, the lead character in Dickens’ classic tale of redemption. John Hopkins is joyous to watch as the money-loving misery guts, drawing out laugh after laugh with his comic grumpiness and sarcasm. He even takes a swipe at us, the ‘theatre-going liberals of Bristol’ in the audience.

After life-changing visits from the ghost of his old business partner Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come, he is much more complimentary though, and just as entertaining as that deliriously cheerful and generous reincarnation of Scrooge that wakes up on Christmas Day.

Performers in A Christmas Carol at Bristol Old Vic

Image credit: Geraint Lewis

The rest of the cast gleefully bounced off Scrooge’s downbeat pessimism with glowing festive spirit. They dip in and out of different roles with ease and deaf actor Stephen Collins steals many scenes as both the endearing Bob Cratchit and Mrs Fezziwig. A highlight of the production was the audience participation and the biggest rounds of applause went to the two school children picked out from the audience to play the young Ebenezer and Tiny Tim. 

The live music, which included an accordion, clarinet and guitar, was spot on as were the props. They ranged from beautiful, especially in the scene of Scrooge’s school days, to downright creepy – I’m mainly referring to the haunting baby figures of Want and Ignorance.

Find time over the festive season to be captivated by this production and you won’t regret it. You’ll leave singing the show-stopping finale song, wishing for an invite to the Fezziwig’s festive knees-up and well and truly swept up in Christmassy feel-goodness.  

Book your tickets to A Christmas Carol now. The show is recommended for ages 7+, runs until 12 January and tickets start from £10. 

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Bristol Old Vic Theatre
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Bristol Old Vic Theatre

Built in 1766, Bristol Old Vic is the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world, and remains a place of joy, discovery and adventure to this day.