Review: A Christmas Carol, Noël Coward Theatre

“Bah humbug”

Thing with resolutions is that it is terribly easy to break them. And having resolved to see no Christmas shows this year, Jim Broadbent only went and decided to do A Christmas Carol in the West End. Not having seen him on stage before, I decided to take the plunge just before heading back up north for the 25th and truth be told, I probably should have left it. 

This adaptation (for there are many around) is by Patrick Barlow, him of The 39 Steps, and has much of the same knockabout energy of that recently departed show. And in Tom Pye’s set of a miniature Victorian theatre in which the play is a play-within-a-play, puppets fly in and out and a genteel atmosphere of old-fashioned fun reigns, overseen by the indubitable twinkle in Broadbent’s eye. 

And though that is entirely right for how Broadbent is seen by many, Phelim McDermott’s production doesn’t quite hit the Scroogish notes that characterise Dickens’ tale. In short, this Christmas Carol has been considerably feckled with both story-wise and character-wise and to little appreciable degree. It’s sentimental rather than sharp, raucous where it could be reflective. 

So despite the hard-working company around him covering multiple roles, I was left disappointed. Taken in and of itself, I imagine it could be quite entertaining but for anyone who knows A Christmas Carol, it might be more of a challenge. 

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval) 
Booking until 30th January

London Musical Theatre Orchestra presents a spectacular one-off production of Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens’ A Christmas Carol at the Lyric Theatre London on Monday 19th December. Given the full Broadway treatment, this musical adaptation ran for an impressive ten years at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Don’t miss out on this extra-festive concert production, featuring an all-star West End cast soon to be announced. Book tickets here.

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