My love for social media and theatre saw me once again set off to one of NTS' Social Media Calls. This time, however, I adventured all the way to Govan, in Glasgow- to be one of the first to see scenes from 'A Christmas Carol', adapted, directed and designed by Graham McLaren (Associate Director NTS). The production takes place in Film City, a building mostly used to create sets for independent films, and this works in the show's favour as the small room in which the audience and actors inhabit becomes a unified body: it is Scrooge's office. And we're sat in it. *gulp*
The cast themselves looked gaunt and ghostly with period costumes, whitened faces and black facial detail, all adding to the atmosphere of what is ultimately a yuletide ghost story. However, the first scene demonstrated that the performance itself is full of life and humour, no matter how dead the characters may look.
McLaren has adapted and interpreted this Dickens' play wonderfully for a modern audience, as whilst staying true to the text, temporal setting and characters he has directed a modern interpretation and humour into it, aiding understanding and adding to the enjoyment and appreciation. This seems to have been achieved not only through the playful characterisation of the ghosts, and their line delivery, but with the inclusion of live music and songs in the piece.
Jon Beales accompanies the action and emotion of the piece, playing the violin in the main space or from a peep hole within an interior set wall. This adds to the tone of the play but also allows for the actors to take part in merry songs, not far from carols in their delivery, giving a musically beating heart to the piece.
Interestingly, the very experience of watching this piece dramatises Scrooge's own experience and anxiety upon being visited by these Christmassy spirits. The dark and eerie lighting allows the puppet-spirits to appear out of the darkness from pieces of furniture which we've observed as just another table, cupboard or light fitting, only to be surprised at the appearance along with Scrooge.
It's a truly thrilling experience to get to see a piece of theatre that fully utilises all the resources within its reach. 'A Christmas Carol' opens Scrooge's door to you (whether he likes it or not), letting you feel the cold wood of his office and be transported to a Christmas eve many centuries ago. You can watch as characters emerge and come to life around you and even smell their world! Finishing the experience by appealing to your emotions through music.
Please, see this show- as a Christmas treat or a theatrical one. Either way you will not be disappointed.
Director - Graham McLaren
Music - Jon Beales
Puppet Master- Gavin Glover
Technical Manager - James Gardner
Company Stage Manager - Natasha Lee-Walsh
Benny Young (Scrooge)
Transport: Fastest link is through the Ibrox subway station from Glasgow centre. Or the number 56 bus and a good walk. (Take a map!)
Book early though as the venue only seats 90 people per performance.
Book here: http://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com
(P.s. it looks like this:)
Watch out for future Social Media Calls from National Theatre of Scotland. They're great ways to get an insight into professional productions of an excellent quality. You can also develop your own journalist skills and find like minded people to gush about theatre with.