Review: A Christmas Carol, Derby Theatre

ESC_1518There is nothing Scrooge-like about the spectacular set for Derby Theatre’s A Christmas Carol.

Neil Irish has created a stage with such a wow factor that even the designers of Les Misérables would be impressed.

It is centred on a huge clock aimed at connecting the Charles Dickens classic to Victorian Derby and has a backdrop of streetscapes lit by the moon and stars.

His designs, teamed with lighting by Emma Jones and sound by Ivan Stott, have transformed this play – long a festive staple around the globe – into something truly memorable for the city.

This is one occasion when the backstage team needs to step into the limelight on stage, take a bow and soak up the applause from an appreciative audience.

The play embodies the best of Christmas spirit as we see the redemption of the miserly, miserable old money lender Ebenezer Scrooge.

This version, adapted by playwright Neil Duffield, may take it away from London to a more general industrial setting to enable the Derby link but otherwise he is faithful to the Dickensian era.

It can be something of a dark and depressing story with beggars, ghosts and orphaned children, but there is also merrymaking, music and magic.

Director Sarah Brigham has been careful to get the mix just right. Her use of the revolving stage to depict the life of Scrooge in the past, present and future works brilliantly and the children from the young company make certain that the show has the necessary festive feel.

Jim Barclay is an excellent choice to play the wickedly stingy Scrooge. He perfects the bitter scowl in the first half of the tale making his transformation into an animated, heel kicking, man of mirth all the more a miracle.

He is joined on stage by a seven-strong team of talented actors all playing several roles from musicians and ghosts, to Bob Cratchit and Mr Fezziwig.

The actors are Daniel David, Adam Horvath, Yana Penrose, Christopher Price, Kate Robson-Stuart, Esme Sears and Daniel Willis and they all sing, play and act with outstanding energy and excitement.

Special mention though should go to Christopher Price whose stage presence is electrifying as the ghost of Joe Marley, the ghost of Christmas Present and even Mr Fezziwig.

Sarah Brigham says she wants to warm our hearts and feast our eyes with this festive show and she has certainly achieved that – don’t miss it if you can get a ticket. It is on until January 4 and more details are available at

The young company appearing in different performances are: Nina Walker, Sophie Bloor, Dominic Gibbs, Luca Panetta, Leo Fox-White, Freya Youngman, T’yanna Asafu-Adjei, Beth Sykes, Ailish Gallimore, Lucy Mabbitt, Thomas Hathaway, Tom Monahan, Katie Hathaway, Jessica Waller, Jaiya Dhillon, Serena Madden, Daisy Chell, Bethany Madden, Darius Cranston, Nick Butcher, Johnny Rush, Rosie Austins, Amelie Turner and Emma Balderston.

Musical director is Adam Howell, casting director Kay Magson, dance choreography Kitty Winter and stage manager Nick Bryan.

Watch them all in rehearsals here