A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story starring Keith Allen. Photo by Manuel Harlan

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story – Reviews round-up ★★★★

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story, the hit adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol byMark Gatiss, has opened again at the Nottingham Playhouse prior to its London run at the Alexandra Palace Theatre from 24 November 2023.

Keith Allen plays Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, Leona Allen as Caroline, James Backway as Fred, Geoffrey Beeversais Narrator, Angelina Chudi as Belle, Edward Harrison as Bob Cratchit, Bettrys Jones as Ghost of Christmas Past, Joe Shire as Fezziwig/Ghost of Christmas Present, Rebecca Trehearn as Mrs Cratchit, and Ryan Weston as Tiny Tim. The role of Edwin Cratchit will be shared by Joshua Beswick, Oliver Dawson, and Alex Gross, and Grace Cratchit shared by Esme Gupta-Wright, Anaya-Sky Lueshing, and Cherry Mitra.

This reviews round-up also includes reviews of this production from its first run in 2021 at the Nottingham Playhouse and London’s Alexandra Palace Theatre.

The 2021 cast included Olivier award-winner Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, The League of Gentlemen) as Jacob Marley in his own, spooky retelling of Dickens’ classic winter ghost story, alongside Nicholas Farrell (The Crown, The Iron Lady) as Scrooge; James Backway (Holes, War Horse) as Fred; Angelina Chudi (Dear Elizabeth) as Caroline; Jo Eaton-Kent (The Watch, Carousel) as the Ghost of Christmas Past; Zak Ford-Williams as Tiny Tim; Aoife Gaston (Barbarians,) as Belle; Christopher Godwin (Amadeus) as the Narrator; Edward Harrison (Wolf Hall, Skellig) as Bob Cratchit; Sarah Ridgeway (HALO, Fury) as Mrs Cratchit; and Joe Shire (Witness for the Prosecution) as Ghost of Christmas Present.

The show’s creative team includes direction by Adam Penford, design by Paul Wills, lighting by Philip Gladwell, sound by Ella Wahlström, movement by Georgina Lamb, composition by Tingying Dong, puppet direction by Matthew Forbes, music direction by Tom Attwood, associate direction by Jasmine Teo and casting by Sam Stevenson CDG.

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story opens at the Alexandra Palace Theatre in London on 24 November 2023, playing to 7 January 2024.

Read reviews for A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story from The Guardian, Telegraph, The Times and more, below.

Book tickets to A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story at the Alexandra Palace Theatre in London

Updated: This article was first published on 3 November 2021 for reviews from the premiere of this production at Nottingham Playhouse, starring Mark Gatiss and Nicholas Farrell, which then ran at the Alexandra Palace Theatre. It has been updated with reviews for the current 2023 version of this production.

A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story reviews

The Times

"Keith Allen’s Scrooge brought a tear to my eye" (2023 Production)

"This revival of Mark Gatiss’s 2021 adaptation of Dickens’s perennial must be one of the first end-of-year holiday-based shows out of the gate."

"Keith Allen is excellent casting as Scrooge. Gruff-voiced and mutton-chopped, his Scrooge starts out terribly — but also comically — mean, not just in penny-pinching terms but also in spirit."

"Allen is good at caustic humour but also knows how to plumb the depths. As the show progresses he understatedly reveals the misery gradually awakened inside the miser by a series of phantasmic encounters. His is not the only performance that is beautifully judged. Edward Harrison’s Bob Cratchit is a wonderfully warm embodiment of decency residing inside a woefully put-upon underling"

"The most fabulously sinister moment is a swirling, airborne parade of fabric-draped skulls on bendy sticks. But what counts most here is genuine emotion. Even this old Scrooge left the theatre teary-eyed."

Donald Hutera, The Times
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The Telegraph

"Keith Allen’s Scrooge is full of comic bluster but doesn’t raise the spirits" (2023 Production)

"If the star doesn't convey the central miser's redemptive arc, there's still lots to enjoy in this revival of Mark Gatiss's eerie production"

"It’s a good instinct from Gatiss, who loves ghost stories, to emphasise that side of it – A Christmas Carol may be remembered as cockle-warming and sentimental, but Dickens’s Victorian fable is also brilliantly bleak and chilling in places. Some horror tropes are effectively brought into play here"

"But the ghosts themselves can be more fruity than spooky – although Bettrys Jones’s unnervingly child-like Christmas Past delivers glinting potency. And Adam Penford’s production oddly doesn’t always feel quite comfortable with its eerier moments"

"I might make a similar observation about Keith Allen’s Scrooge, who looks the part down to the mutton-chops and nightcap. He brings nice comic bluster to this most famous miser, grunting and harrumphing and farting – even if this dyspeptic humour occasionally feels at odds with the more spellbinding atmosphere the production seems to be driving towards. But his portrayal falters in the second half"

Holly Williams, The Telegraph
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The Telegraph

"Nothing humbug about Mark Gatiss’s fabulous take on Dickens" (2021 Production)

"This irresistibly theatrical new production at the Nottingham Playhouse does the evergreen 1843 novella full justice"

Mark Brown, The Telegraph
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The Sun

“Remarkable debuts" (2021 Production)

"Mark Gatiss adapts and stars in a joyful but messy adaptation of the Dickens classic"

"The greatest consistency comes from the uniform strength of the ensemble, led by Nicholas Farrell as a sinewy, buckled Scrooge – cartoonishly evil rather than genuinely malevolent and transforming giddily at the end. There are also two remarkable debuts from Zak Ford-Williams as Tiny Tim and Aoife Gaston as Belle."

Tim Bano, The Sun
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The Guardian

"Mark Gatiss’s witty dash through Dickens" (2021 Production)

"Gatiss’s delayed rework amps up the ghostly effects while drawing out the overlooked dark comedy in the classic tale"

"Other atmosphere-building exchanges – of an impoverished mother singing to her child, of street crowds – are too many, too short, and feel like pauses to the story. Some key moments feel too fleeting and don’t carry enough emotion, including Tiny Tim’s deathbed scene. But when the human drama slows down, it gains an emotional catch, such as a romantic pause between Belle (Aoife Gaston) and the young Scrooge, and the final scene between Scrooge and Bob Cratchit (Edward Harrison); we wish for a few more of these."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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What's On Stage

"Mark Gatiss pens a spooky twist on Dickens' classic" (2021 Production)

"The full cast play 50 characters over 30 scenes and a range of devices are employed to convey the story including singing, dancing, illusion, video and puppetry."

Philip Lowe, What's On Stage
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The Times

"Mark Gatiss’s new Dickens adaptation puts a smile on your face" (2021 Production)

"This is how to make Dickens’s greatest hit feel both surprising and familiar!”

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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i News

"Mark Gatiss’s spooky new take is both horrific and hammy" (2021 Production)

"Nicholas Farrell’s acerbically funny Scrooge and Gatiss’s ghostly Jacob Marley are a Dickens double-act to savour in this fun show with magical special effects."

Sam Marlowe, i News
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📷 Main photo: A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story starring Keith Allen. Photo by Manuel Harlan

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