Mince Pies Come Included At The Old Vic's A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic ★★★★☆

Hari Mountford
By Hari Mountford Last edited 54 months ago

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Last Updated 08 December 2019

Mince Pies Come Included At The Old Vic's A Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic 4
Photo: Manuel Harlan

Frankly, more theatres should learn a lesson from The Old Vic, where, before every performance of A Christmas Carol, the audience are given warm mince pies and fresh, juicy satsumas. A move that's guaranteed to get even the most miserly Scrooge into the Christmas spirit.

Despite Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol having been adapted for stage more times than seems possible, it still remains an incredibly popular show. The themes from the story are timeless — the transformation of the tight-fisted, Christmas-hating Ebenezer Scrooge into a jolly, generous, good-spirited man, and his resolve to do something about poverty, remains pertinent today.

This latest version is an utterly magical one: with lanterns hanging from the ceiling, bell ringing, harmonised carols and a healthy dose of humour. Starring Paterson Joseph of Peep Show fame as the mean Ebenezer Scrooge, who perfectly embodies Dickens' most famous character.

Quotes are sometimes taken directly from the book — the opening line 'Marley was dead' of course makes an appearance — yet these parts are narrated by all of the cast, which doesn't quite work. Following a thoroughly festive opening, the first half of the performance is admittedly a little dull and drawn out. Luckily, the second half's energy pulls it back.

Photo: Manuel Harlan

There are pantomime-style elements, in the form of audience participation — you might get your hands on some sausages, and one lucky small child gets the chance to go on stage. Be prepared to get slightly wet — the immersive show features more than a sprinkling of foamy snow falling from the ceiling. Although with that external dampness comes a thoroughly warm and happy feeling inside. Granted, it's a little cheesy, but these things all add to the magic of the affair.

Victorian London comes alive in A Christmas Carol. With its heart-warming message, impressive singing and, of course, the adorable Tiny Tim, the whole family will have a ball of a time. If only for the music and the free mince pies, A Christmas Carol deserves a spot in your December schedule.

A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic, The Cut, London, SE1 SNB, tickets from £12. Until 18 January 2020