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Review: Mark Gatiss’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Nottingham Playhouse

It was a merry night indeed as bah humbug Ebenezer Scrooge returned to the stage at Nottingham Playhouse.

First staged at the theatre in 2021, fresh out of the 2020 lockdowns, Mark Gatiss’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol has been brought back for a second exploration.

And what an exploration it is — an ambitious production with child actors, puppetry and an elaborate set.

Keith Allen stars in A Christmas Carol at Norttingham Playhouse.
Keith Allen stars in A Christmas Carol at Norttingham Playhouse.

The design is a beautiful blend of realistic Victorian-era props and clothing, against a backdrop of alluringly abstract filing cabinets which blend Scrooge’s ruthless business into the poverty-stricken streets — all built by Nottinghamshire Playhouse Workshops with freelance support.

While not typical of the time, a sprinkling of modern festivities, Christmas trees, made their way onto the stage and with a helping of snowfall its was surely enough to get even the most sullen people into the festive spirit.

The cast of just thirteen play 50 roles as we journey from Christmases past to future, led by Keith Allen as Scrooge.

His transformation from crotchety and unkind to joyful and generous was over-the-top, but ultimately perfect for the story and the lesson we all learn throughout.

While the visiting spirits (Bettrys Jones, Joe Shire, Peter Forbes) could have been altogether too spooky for younger viewers, the production balanced the shock with periods of reflection and happiness, while incorporating impressive lighting, sound and graphics for an immersive experience.

Mention must also go to Madison Spencer-Ogiorumua who made her professional debut in the show as Grace Cratchit, and delivered a spot-on performance throughout.

She was also accompanied by Charlie Westlake as Edwin Cratchet who returned for a second run after starring in the premiere.

All in all it felt the perfect bridge between Halloween and the festive season.

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