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A Christmas Carol: Simon Callow’s one-man carol is a treat for all this Christmas

| Theatre | 05/01/2017

A Christmas Carol © Arts Theatre
A Christmas Carol © Arts Theatre

Simon Callow’s one-man narration of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol comes to an end this Saturday after a successful run at The Arts Theatre.  As Sandip Kana writes for What’s On London, you should catch this mesmerising piece of theatre – acted by a truly great British actor – while you can.  

Now over 170 years old, A Christmas Carol is one of the best-known stories around, but director Tom Cairns has skilfully stripped it back to the novel’s bare essentials.  This means it lacks some of the trappings of a great, lavish West End Christmas production.  However, Cairns shows that all you really need is a fine actor and a minimalist stage to create a stunning narration.  The end result is elegant, beautiful and magical.

Simon Callow in A Christmas Carol © Arts Theatre

Simon Callow in A Christmas Carol
© Arts Theatre

From the moment Simon Callow step out onto The Arts Theatre stage – bare apart from a few stools and fairy lights – in a simple raincoat and scarf, he captures and controls the audience with great ease.  He effortlessly brings to life all the characters from the novel, including of course the miserable Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the rest of the delightful Crotchet family, subtly driving the energy and emotion of the production.

Callow has shown time and time again – as he does here – that he is a master, or perhaps the master, of Dickens’ prose.  There’s none better at portraying the social indignation, humour and raw emotion necessary for a production such as this to soar to great heights.

And soar it does, even when cut into a 70-minute performance.  For this, both Cairns and Callow deserve enormous credit.  However, a fair slice must also go to Dickens, who reminds us that despite writing so long ago, his works have lost none of their meaning or relevance.

A Christmas Carol is being performed at The Arts Theatre in The West End until Saturday 7 January 2017, starting at 7.45 pm.  For tickets, head to the theatre’s official website.

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