The NAC’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the Ghost of Theatre Past

current nac

Here is an excerpt from my latest review:

There’s a new theatre company in town, and it is based at the National Arts Centre.

It has been a quarter of a century since the NAC last had a resident English theatre acting company, and I am excited that it has been resurrected.  ‘The NAC 40th Anniversary English Theatre Acting Company’ is a diverse collective of 18 actors from all over the nation.  On Friday, December 11, the new company launched their season with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Dickens’ family-friendly yuletide favourite is, on the one hand, a very un-ambitious start for a brand new national company. It is, nonetheless, an appropriate choice for this time of year.  There is something timeless about the story that appeals to a broad audience, which is undoubtedly why there are so many versions of it in circulation this year. Opening night was nearly sold out, and I’m sure tickets will be hard to come by if you don’t book them early.

In many ways, the NAC’s version directed by Peter Hinton is a very conventional take on this well-known 19th-century play. Eo Sharp’s costume design does an admirable job of evoking Victorian England, and the minimalistic set design is also generally effective (though Scrooge and Marley’s names in large golden lettering far above the stage is tacky and out of place).

The show’s greatest weakness is in its lighting design, which for the most part is much too dark. It is undoubtedly meant to set the mood for the performance, but cloaking performers in shadow for prolonged periods of time only serves to hinder the audience’s view of the actors’ expressions and performances. Even as atmosphere, the content of many of the scenes is actually much lighter than the lighting design would suggest….

Click here for the full review. Please feel free to share your own thoughts on the play in the comments section.

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