A Christmas Carol at Royal & Derngate, Northampton – Review

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Four-year-old daughter settled into her theatre seat and made a pronouncement: “Ooh, this looks a bit too scary for me.”
This was before the curtain had even gone up.
Admittedly, it was a scary black curtain, which rose to show a classic Victorian street scene – only with the added brilliance of the Royal set-makers; boxes piled on boxes, upon bookcases and grandfather clocks. All moveable mini sets which characters could climb and peer through.

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A Christmas Carol has been going down a storm at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate this year, and rightly so. I haven’t heard a bad word about 2012’s in-house offering – a welcome antidote to the giant celebrity-studded Bobby Davro/Denise Loose-women omnipanto next door in Derngate.
Pantomime it ain’t. The show sticks to the original Dickens classic story pretty religiously and that’s to its credit; there’s no soft-soaping of the Victorian urban setting here. Poverty, cold and Scrooge (played to miserly perfection by the considerably younger Sam Graham), grumbles and snarls his way around Christmas Eve like there’s no tomorrow, and of course, for him there might not be.
Cue the three ghosts – the Santa-like Andy Williams gives a show-stealing turn as the ghost of Christmas present as well as Jacob Marley – and Scrooge has to clean up his act for the sake of poor old’ Tiny Tim and the Cratchetts.
The cast are marvellous, and combined with a slick script and that mesmerising set, it’s a set of ingredients which leaves the audience feeling full and contented. Even the four-year-olds.

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If you manage to get a ticket, do try to see it before the run ends on January 6. Box office is on 01604 624811.
I can’t guarantee any celebrity spotting on the way out though. Our Bloke saw Philip Schofield as we were leaving, although none of us – bah humbug – believed him. Turns out he was watching his brother-in-law play Scrooge.

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