No doubt you’ve seen A Christmas Carol’s many film adaptations over and over, potentially read the book and even seen it in pantomime. Nevertheless, The Flanagan Collective’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol is something which will exceed all your expectations of what A Christmas Carol is. The Theatre Deli often showcases performances that are out of the ordinary and this was extraordinary.
Advertised as an ‘immersive’ experience, you do wonder how immersive it really will be. Stepping in to the theatre you are transformed in to Victorian Britain. The set – if you can call it that – is so immersive that after a while you forget that you aren’t actually in Scrooge’s house. This is complete with a wall of people who ‘owe him’ – with some particularly funny names.
True to story, the theatrical experience also warms hearts by partnering with local charities. Within the dining experience, the theatre company has commissioned St Mary’s Church in Sheffield to help provide the delicious two-course meal. The meal requires you to speak to the people around you, people you’ve never met and discuss what Christmas means to you. It is an experience not to be forgotten, pulling crackers and sharing jokes while trying to convince Scrooge of Christmas’ delight and the message of giving. Bringing to life what it means to ‘eat, drink and be merry.’
Al Barclay who plays Scrooge and Jack Whitam who plays Marley, have a powerful dynamic between them and their performances were electric. They will have you laughing and somewhat tearing up. They really made the most of their surroundings, not just the amazing set design but also the attendees. That’s right, immersive means taking part in the dialogue and play too. While some may be apprehensive, this quickly disappears among the merriment and festivities.
The tone of the piece is generally merry, however the story at hand is still powerful. At moments the sobriety of the story is palpable as both actors change the atmosphere with their delivery. The story does differ from other adaptations as the only prominent characters performing are Marley and Scrooge, however it still makes a poignant piece. The creators, Alexander Wright and Tom Bellerby deserve every accolade and more for their theatrical genius; a piece that deserves to be seen by everyone.
A Christmas Carol is a real Christmas cracker that everyone should go and see. It is without a doubt the best theatre I have seen all year. The experience has been running for eight years so far, and you’d have to be a real Scrooge to dislike it.
A Christmas Carol runs in Sheffield until December 16 before transferring to Mansion House in York.
Header image: Brendan Bell