My evening at ‘A Christmas Carol’ by ‘European Arts Company’ on Saturday night at the Exchange Theatre, Maidstone, was intimate, atmospheric and a hugely positive experience.
For me, this succeeded in bringing Charles Dickens back to life, giving his well-loved Christmas tale a new lease of life. ‘A Christmas Carol’ was shown in a new light by being performed in the same way Dickens himself delivered ‘A Christmas Carol’ to audiences in the 1800’s.
As ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ filled the room I was drawn into the Dickensian Christmas, enjoying the scenes that unfolded in front of me with Charles Dickens stirring my imagination.
An astonishing performance by John O’Connor ensured the success of this one-man production. He captivated the audience with the accuracy and depth he gave to each character – delivering comedy and tragedy in equal aplomb.
Enhanced by atmospheric lighting and music, the staging was minimalistic and the focus all upon Dickens himself, who was dressed in the finery expected of the era.
On stage, in front of scene partitions, the props were a simple chair and writing desk (a desk which is a replica of Dickens’s original) and yet the clever staging of the production – directed by Peter Craze – saw the writing desk used as a coffin, stairwell and even a bedpost as the story came to life.
This was a very brave production – treading in the shoes of Dickens and portraying ‘A Christmas Carol’ just as Dickens would have done in his lifetime. The evidently painstaking research into the way in which Dickens delivered his performances paid off and John O’Connor proved acting truly is an art form.
It was brilliant to see a piece of theatre so well performed and knowing the production was given in aid of the charity Barnardo’s made the subject even more poignant.
Seeing productions such as European Arts Company’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ reassures me the world of theatre continues to deserve a place in everyone’s hearts.
Click here to read our interview with actor, writer, director and producer John O’Connor.