A reviews round-up of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic starring Owen Teale.
A Christmas Carol is now playing at The Old Vic until 7 January 2023.
The festive show stars Tony Award-winner Owen Teale (Game of Thrones) as Ebenezer Scrooge, in an adaptation by award-winning playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), directed by Matthew Warchus (Matilda The Musical).
The full cast includes Melissa Allan as Little Fan, Merryl Ansah as Jess, Raffaella Covino as dance captain/swing, Billy Cullum as Nicholas/swing, Roger Dipper as Bob Cratchit, Geraint Downing as Ferdy/George, Jenny Fitzpatrick as Ghost of Christmas Present/Mrs Fezziwig, Julie Jupp as Ghost of Christmas Past, Alastair Parker as Fezziwig, Dominic Sibanda as Fred, Sebastien Torkia as Father/Marley, Samuel Townsend as Young Ebenezer, Meesha Turner as Mrs Cratchit and Lydia White as Belle.
Also in the creative team is Rob Howell (set and costume design), Christopher Nightingale (composition and arrangement), Hugh Vanstone (lighting), Simon Baker (sound), Jessica Ronane (casting), Lizzi Gee (movement), Katharine Woolley (musical direction), Charlie Hughes-D’Aeth (voice), Penny Dyer (dialect), Joe Austin (associate director), and Simon Greiff (second associate director).
More reviews to follow
A Christmas Carol reviews
"Jack Thorne’s Dickens comes with all the trimmings"
"Short of ushers guiding you to your seats on sleighs made of marzipan, the Old Vic could scarcely lay on the festive trappings more generously in this Christmas staple."
"Matthew Warchus directs, but the work of his designer Rob Howell is what you go home cooing over. The ghosts wear handsome patchwork dresses. The empty doors to Scrooge’s office rise up and sink down flush into the stage. Hugh Vanstone’s lighting is organised around dozens of lanterns that hang handsomely from the ceiling. A Merry Christmas to us all."
"Owen Teale does a fine job as Scrooge, stepping into gorgeously faded clobber earlier worn by Rhys Ifans, Stephen Tompkinson, Andrew Lincoln, Paterson Joseph and Stephen Mangan. He holds the stage with assuredly grumbly aplomb. What he struggles with, though, is suggesting that Scrooge’s overnight ordeal comes as a surprise to him. He looks, as many of us feel, familiar with the order of play as the ghosts take him back to his demanding drunken father, the love he lost, to see anew how ambition ossified into meanness"
"This Scrooge is a little too nice for his own good"
"The fine actor Owen Teale has irascibility in spades but lacks Ebenezer's coldness – and maybe the Old Vic just needs a new festive show"
"Into the camp of being a touch too warm fully to answer the brief falls, alas, Owen Teale, leading the sixth iteration of Jack Thorne’s deft Old Vic adaptation. The Welshman, not far into his sixties, is plainly a fine actor and in terms of projecting power alone won’t leave anyone in the cheap seats feeling short-changed. But there’s a ruggedness and rubicund vivacity about him that even the dilapidated detail of his flowing dressing-gown can’t quite hide."
"But this show’s familiarity aside (it’s almost on tourists’ Yuletide to-do list), the cupboard for five-star Scrooges is now looking a touch bare. Isn’t it high time the Old Vic changed its festive menu?"
"More poignant, and more joyous than ever"
"This annual rendering of the Dickens classic feels particularly resonant during the economic crisis"
"The evening’s warm inclusivity is immediately established as the members of the ensemble – who multitask as chorus, dancers, and named characters – parade the stage dressed as town criers, greeting arrivals with mince pies, song and conversation. They also voice Dickens’ scene-setting opening, before Scrooge takes the stage."
"Warchus’s direction has been cosily inventive throughout (aided by some wondrous lighting by Hugh Vanstone) but he really goes to town for the spectacular finale – Scrooge’s friendly raid on the Crachitt Christmas – which involves heavy snowfall, the aerial delivery of fruit and veg and Teale somehow not getting his head knocked off when ducking beneath a giant turkey that flies across the stage. As the ensemble deliver a final carol, with bells, the feelgood has been well and truly earned."
"One of the best Christmas shows you’ll ever see"
"Flawless and resonant retelling of the Dickens classic"
"Brussel sprouts dangling from parachutes, cosmic rumbles, a turkey on a zipwire – there’s so much that’s unexpected in this jaw-dropping, synapse-tingling version of the Dickens classic. Jack Thorne’s adaptation, in a production by Matthew Warchus, first swept up audiences in 2017 – five years later, it retains its capacity to dig deep into the meanness of Scrooge’s life to produce dramatic gold."
"[Owen Teale] owns the role, revealing himself as a wounded grizzly bear of a man who’s wittily sceptical of the spirits who threaten him with emotional truth."
"Thorne’s adaptation heightens the original with biographical elements from Dickens’ life; through the Ghost of Christmas Past we see Scrooge has a cruel father, but Thorne adds the detail that the cruelty stems from his financial worries. This adds significant ballast to Scrooge’s own story – in his wretched, money-grubbing existence we suddenly see the need to escape turning into his father, a debtor like Dickens’ own, who destroys the lives of all around him."
"Owen Teale’s Scrooge is a bit underpowered, but the Old Vic’s unstoppable annual show remains magical as ever"
"Jack Thorne’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ is now such a regular annual fixture at the Old Vic that it stands a good chance of being added to one of those ‘You know it’s Christmas in London when…’ lists. Its appeal isn’t hard to understand"
"It is not perfect, though, and its imperfections are more apparent in this year’s outing (its sixth) starring Owen Teale as Scrooge."
"Teale’s performance is more finely nuanced, but if you’ve ever read any Dickens, you’ll know that nuance is maybe not his stand-out quality. His Scrooge occasionally feels more like a divorced alcoholic copper with anger issues and a lot on his mind, and the production adds relationship drama at the expense of more ghosts and/or whoopee. I don’t care that much about Scrooge’s old girlfriend, sorry. More gothic gloom and jelly!"
"Dickensian feast for the eyes"
"2022's Scrooge is Owen Teale from Game Of Thrones and my favourite so far: fabulous whiskers, properly gruff, convincingly furious as he resists the nagging female ghosts. Only late on does he realise that he is not only a 'squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner' but has wasted his own chances of happiness.
"That modern self-pity is part of Jack Thorne's adaptation: while he wisely uses Dickens's prose in narration he adds therapy-couch explanations about Scrooge's cruel father and his lost love."