A Christmas Carol - RSC

A Christmas Carol reviews starring Adrian Edmondson at the RSC ★★★★

Review are coming in for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s festive production of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, starring Adrian Edmondson as Ebenezer Scrooge.

The show is currently playing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until 1 January 2023.

Rachel Kavanaugh, who will direct Great British Bake Off – The Musical in the West End next year, directs the show.

Adrian Edmondson returns to the RSC after Twelfth Night in 2017.  His other stage credits include The Rocky Horror ShowWaiting for Godot, Bits of Me Are Falling Apart, The Boy Friend, and Once Upon A Time in Nazi Occupied Tunisia. On TV, Adrian is best known for The Young Ones, The Comic Strip Presents…, Bottom, Blackadder, War & Peace, Bancroft, Save Me, Cheat, Out of Her Mind, Back To Life, Summer of Rockets, One of Us, Upstart Crow and A Spy Among Friends.

Other cast includes TV actress and presenter Sunetra Sarker as The Ghost of Christmas Present; plus Beth Alsbury (Hinge), Lauren Arney (Belinda), Sally Cheng (Isabel), Eamonn Cox (Swing), Rachel Denning (Mrs Baldock), Adrian Edmondson (Ebenezer Scrooge), Gavin Fowler (Charles Dickens), Clive Hayward (Fezziwig), Jack Humphrey (Tim), Beruce Khan (John Forster), Rebecca Lacey (The Ghost of Christmas Past), Bethany Linsdell (Caroline), Michael Lyle (Father), Alexander Moneypenny (Swing), Conor O’Hara (Swing), Emma Pallant (Mrs Cratchit), Joseph Prowen (Fred), Sunetra Sarker (The Ghost of Christmas Present), Rachel Seirian (Swing), Oliver Senton (Uber), Mitesh Soni (Bob Cratchit), Liyah Summers (Fanny), Giles Taylor (Marley) and Georgie Westall (Swing).

Adapted by David Edgar, his socially-conscious adaptation of Dickens’ classic fable opened in 2017 to critical acclaim in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where it played to sell-out audiences.

A Christmas Carol is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis with lighting by Tim Mitchell. Music is by Catherine Jayes, Sound Design by Fergus O’Hare with Movement by Georgina Lamb.

More reviews to follow.

Average Critics Rating
★★★★

The Guardian
★★★★

"Adrian Edmondson stars in a biting tale for our times"

"David Edgar’s sharp script feels close to home in this exuberant, illusion-filled version of Dickens’ seasonal but socially conscious story"

"As a politically engaged playwright, David Edgar (Destiny, Maydays) is ideal to mine the hard stones of social campaigning Dickens hid within his seasonal treat"

"The joy of the show, though, comes from the seamlessness of Edgar’s donnish sub-text – a framing device has Dickens outlining and improvising the story to his publisher – and the exuberant visual spectacle of Rachel Kavanaugh’s staging, incorporating illusions (by Ben Hart and RSC Production Video) including one transformation that achieves a gasp of joyous shock matching the sudden audience jump in The Woman in Black."

"... the RSC sets the annual standard very high with a version combining childish pleasures and grownup ideas."

Mark Lawson, The Guardian
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The Times
★★★★

"Adrian Edmondson makes an excellent Scrooge"

"Adrian Edmondson takes the role of Scrooge this time, and it’s a pleasure to report that he’s an excellent choice. It goes without saying that it’s not easy to love an old miser, but Edmondson gives the Victorian skinflint a patina of comic befuddlement as he undergoes one ordeal after another"

"Edgar brings Dickens into the heart of the action as a campaigner against child poverty who wants to write a pamphlet about the condition of the poor."

"Yes, there’s a very slight slowing of the pace in the second half before we rush towards the joyous conclusion. But there’s a warmth and heartiness to this production which gives it the edge over the long-running, bell-ringing version by Jack Thorne, which begins another run at London’s Old Vic later this week".

Clive Davis, The Times
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Birmingham Mail
★★★★

"Adrian Edmondson is joyful in this thought provoking show"

"Adrian Edmondson leads the cast as Scrooge in this reworking of Dickens novel A Christmas Carol"

"This poignant reworking of Dickens' classic brings humour, sadness and some chilling moments to life in this year's Christmas production at the RSC. And it is a young Dickens himself who becomes part of the story here."

"Sunetra Sarker is excellent as the cheery Ghost of Christmas Present but it is the appearance of the fourth ghost which provides a rather chilling moment -prompting gasps across the theatre before it moved on to show Scrooge some terrifying truths which would turn things around."

Sarah Probert, Birmingham Mail
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The Stage
★★★

"Timely, lavishly designed revival of David Edgar’s didactic adaptation of the Dickens classic"

"David Edgar’s strident 2017 adaptation aims to make the story’s societal themes even more explicit."

"Kavanaugh’s heavy-handed approach to the material ratchets up both the comedy and the melodrama. One moment, her performers are delivering puns with playful winks to the audience – the next, they’re sobbing over a meagre Christmas dinner. Jarringly, the ghostly spirits haunting Scrooge feel more emotionally authentic than the mortals they share the stage with."

"Edmondson’s Scrooge is wheedling, sly and proud of his ability to cause shock and discomfort"

Dave Fargnoli, The Stage
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The Telegraph
★★★★

"Adrian Edmondson proves a joyously propulsive Scrooge in this lavish RSC revival"

"He may no longer be a Young One, but the former Vyvyan's energy levels haven't dipped one bit – and the show is superb"

"It’s a pleasure to report that the intervening decades haven’t fatally dimmed the comedian-turned-actor’s energy-levels. This is a joyously propulsive performance that stands comparison with the mutton-chopped best of them. All the snarling malevolence, haunted bewilderment and belated contrition-rich kindness, with rejuvenated sprightliness to boot, is present and correct."

"First seen in 2017, David Edgar’s adaptation, directed with dab-handed polish by Rachel Kavanaugh, has its cake and eats it. We get the requisite lavish spectacle, with all the trimmings... But Dickens and his friend and editor John Forster are here part and parcel of the narrative, the author’s creative process and political rationale discussed as Gavin Fowler’s garrulous literary genius spirits up the page-turner in order to fulfil his outraged social justice mission."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Sunday Times
★★★

"Adrian Edmondson’s bulgy-eyed, lip-licking Scrooge is the best thing about the show. “K-k-keep the change,” Scrooge stammers when he is still learning the new language of philanthropy. Stephen Brimson Lewis’s design is no less admirable than when first used. Joseph Prowen catches the eye as Scrooge’s nephew Fred."

"Other aspects could be improved. Some of the amplification is a bit furry and the stage illusions are patchy"

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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📷 Main photo: A Christmas Carol - RSC. Photo by Manuel Harlan

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