Jacob Marley enters the stage in a frightful manner, wearing the chains he forged in life - the chains that Ebenezer Scrooge is fated to wear, should he not turn his life around. Marley then narrates the well-known story of Scrooge in a stripped-back performance, allowing the message of Dickens's tale to shine through.
The stage held only a chair and chain, and yet a whole world was created before the audience, just as James Hyland was the only actor on stage, yet was able to bring a whole cast to life. The characterisation of Bob Marley was fantastic, from the ghostly makeup to the physical acting as he dragged around his chains. He then seamlessly transitioned into the other characters, each with distinct traits and voices, with their nature captured perfectly; the melancholy of Jacob, the familial love that Bob held, the gentle sadness of Belle (Scrooge's past lover), and the unerring hope of Fred (Scrooge's nephew), to name a few.
The audience was invited into the home of the Cratchits through narration alone, as we were able to envision Bob and his family celebrating Christmas at the table with a goose and feel joy at their family bond. The play had one key success - its ability to incite emotion in the audience. A Christmas Carol is about the importance of gratitude and kindness, and James Hyland was able to make the audience feel pity for Scrooge, feel joyful with the Cratchits, and feel bittersweet hope by the end of the play. After all, whilst Scrooge may have learned his lesson in time, Jacob Marley, the narrator, remained in his chains of regret.
We were reminded at the end of the play to remember the story told, and the audience will undoubtedly keep the words of Jacob Marley close to their hearts. We will all remember the tale about how kindness and gratitude are the happiest paths in life, not chasing wealth and greed.
If you're looking for a unique rendition of a timeless tale, then this is the show for you! A Christmas Carol is also showing on the 23rd and 24th of December at The Old Red Lion Theatre in London!