Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is one of THE great stories — combining the magic of London, ghosts and Christmas. (Sometimes Kermit the Frog, too.) This yuletide, there's a festive flurry of adaptations on stage, running the gamut from traditional, to drunken, to Dollywood. None of that was a typo.
1. A Christmas Carol, Old Vic
Since 2017, Waterloo's Old Vic theatre has staged Jack Thorne's (writer of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) version of the Dickens Christmas parable, which comes loaded with all the trimmings — think stove-pipe hats, groaning ghouls, and mince pies dished out to the audience. It's back again in 2022, with Game of Thrones' Owen Teale playing the miserable old pinchpenny who (spoiler alert) finally sees the light.
A Christmas Carol, Old Vic, 12 November-7 January
2. A Sherlock Carol, Marylebone Theatre
Set three Christmasses after the notorious Reichenbach Falls episode, this Sherlock-Scrooge mash-up sees the Victorian detective approached by one Tiny Tim, who wants to get to the bottom of the mysterious death of his reformed benefactor, Ebenezer Scrooge. A Sherlock Carol sounds like a Londonphile's Christmasses all come at once — plus the reviews from NYC, where it debuted, praise its clever comedy stylings.
A Sherlock Carol, Marylebone Theatre, 18 November-7 January
3. Scroogelicious, Theatre Peckham
"Christmas?! That’s bare humbug, innit!" The timeless story is transported to the streets of modern day Peckham, courtesy of a young south east London cast, in a remix that sees Scrooge as an avaricious developer hell-bent on gentrifying everything in sight. Hmm. Can we make it mandatory for ALL property developers to go and see this one?
Scroogelicious, Theatre Peckham, 1-23 December
4. A Christmas Carol, Rose Theatre
A musical score and a female Ebenezer give a fresh twist to A Christmas Carol at the Rose Theatre in Kingston. We're also promised a time-travelling element to this family-friendly production, suitable for kids as young as five.
A Christmas Carol, Rose Theatre, 2 December-2 January
5. A Christmas Carol, Bridge Theatre
"A cockle-warming, chestnut-roasting, heart-filling slice of Christmas" is how the Standard heartily endorses Nicholas Hytner's version of A Christmas Carol, which by all means sounds a cockle-warmingly Dickensian affair. Seasoned thesp Simon Russell Beale returns to play the lead role in this adaptation, which received rave reviews from its Covid-curtailed run in 2020.
A Christmas Carol, Bridge Theatre, 6-31 December
6. A Christmas Carol, New Wimbledon Theatre
The Dickens Theatre Company returns to Wimbledon with its unique spin on A Christmas Carol, which involves two of Dickens' theatrical companions forced to play 30-odd characters between then, when the rest of their troupe gets stuck on a train. Bloody strikes.
A Christmas Carol, Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre, 5-10 December
7. A Christmas Carol-ish..., Soho Theatre
Ted Lasso star Nick Mohammed knows a thing or two about playing the baddie, so assuming the miserly role of Scrooge shouldn't be too much of a stretch. That said, he's doing it in the guise of his bumbling Mr Swallow character, with the caveat: "it has been a real privilege getting to take the original text and change all the words, context and overall meaning such that it fits my very specific requirements." Who really knows what to expect, apart from a sled-load of giggles, especially given that Kieran Hodgson and David Elms are in supporting roles.
A Christmas Carol-ish..., Soho Theatre, 7-23 December
8. Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol, Southbank Centre
We had to rub our eyes, too. But here it is, bold as brass — a Christmas Carol adaptation infused with so much Tennessee spirit, you could slap a label on it and call it Jack. Alas, the Queen of Dollywood herself doesn't appear in this banjo-besmattered musical, but she did write the showtunes, and it does promise to be a hoot and a half. Just don't expect a word-for-word retelling of the 1843 novella.
Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol, Southbank Centre, 8 December-8 January
9. A Christmas Carol, Greenwich Theatre
Wish you were around to catch Dickens himself dramatically perform his Christmas tale? The next best thing is watching John O'Connor in the guise of the author, performing a spirited public reading at Greenwich Theatre (for tow days and three shows only). Whether or not he feasts on champagne and oysters like Dickens did on his reading nights, we don't know.
A Christmas Carol, Greenwich Theatre, 12 and 19 December
10. A Pissedmas Carol, Leicester Square Theatre
Bar, rum, glug! This show does what it says on the tin (of lager) — namely A Christmas Carol, but with one of the Sh!t-faced Showtime cast members getting increasingly merry (insert 'Christmas spirits' gag here). Whether or not they're guzzling down goblets of 'Smoking Bishop', to stay true to the original text, remains to be seen.
A Pissedmas Carol, Leicester Square Theatre, 15 December-7 January
11. A Christmas Carol, Middle Temple Hall
For the past decade, Antic Disposition has laid on an enchanting Christmas Carol rendition, which whisks you through the cobbled inns of court that Dickens himself would have known, staging the ghostly tale in the grand Middle Temple Hall, replete with boughs of holly, mulled wine and an original score, inspired by Victorian carols. Sounds as magical as a white Christmas.
A Christmas Carol, Middle Temple Hall, 20-29 December
By the way, if you are looking to watch the felt version of the Charles Dickens tale, screenings of The Muppet Christmas Carol take place in London across the festive season, including Prince Charles Cinema, Backyard Cinema and a one-off live in concert at the Hammersmith Apollo. Find other Christmas film screenings in London.
We've also mapped a load of A Christmas Carol locations — from the book, films and plenty more.