Tag Archives: Nobby Clark

Christmas Carol – A Fairy Tale


Wilton’s Music Hall

Christmas Carol - A Fairy Tale

Christmas Carol – A Fairy Tale

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 5th December 2019



“The magical combination of Christmas Carol and Wilton’s Music Hall makes this the ideal Christmas show”


A Christmas Carol is an extremely popular festive tale first told by Charles Dickens in 1843 (and best told by the Muppets in 1992). Piers Torday’s interpretation, which replaces Ebenezer Scrooge with his younger sister Fan, is a worthy edition to this canon, and a refreshing take on an old classic.

This alternate universe Christmas Carol has much in common with the original. Fan is a cold-hearted moneylender who, on Christmas Eve, is visited by three spirits in a plea to make her change her ways. But Fan, being female, has a different life to Ebenezer (who, in this story, dies young, much like Fan Scrooge does in the original). Whilst her brother is sent away to school, she keeps house for their alcoholic father. Fulfilling employment is soon cut short, and work gives way for marriage to Jacob Marley. When Marley dies, Fan, angered by the way patriarchal society has reduced her to nothing more than her husband’s property, takes over his business and runs it with a ruthlessness that makes her the richest (and most hated) woman in London.

Torday uses Fan to explore how Victorian women were shaped by social constraints. What would Scrooge have been like had he been female? The conclusion seems to be that he would have been just as tough, if not tougher. Fan’s complaint that her husband, by law, owned both her and her property is just a small glimpse into the laws and customs that held Victorian women back. When young Fan asks her brother what she will be when they grow up, his response – ‘a music teacher… or a governess, or a wife… it doesn’t matter, really’ – is a clear disappointment for such an intelligent and tenacious girl. This makes her more likeable than Ebenezer was in the original, easier to connect with. And, although this theme is sometimes handled clumsily, it is nonetheless engaging.

Above all, however, this show is a lot of fun. The script is silly and witty; it has the feeling of a panto without actually being one. The cast is faultless. Each actor excels in multiple roles, ranging from humans to spirits to animals. Sally Dexter’s performance as Scrooge is, by turns, humorous and heart-breaking: she clearly projects Torday’s message about Victorian women in an emotive and persuasive manner. Yana Penrose, playing Meagre the Cat, also deserves special mention for guiding us through the story as a puppeteer/narrator.

The fun, festive aspect of the show is accelerated by the space of Wilton’s Music Hall, which is used to great effect. The multiple set changes are smooth and impressive, whilst the Christmas decorations in the final scene make the conclusion all the more heart-warming.

The magical combination of Christmas Carol and Wilton’s Music Hall makes this the ideal Christmas show. And, whilst I am willing to die on the hill that the Muppets did it best, Christmas Carol comes pretty damn close.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography by  Nobby Clark


Christmas Carol – A Fairy Tale

Wilton’s Music Hall until 4th January


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Box of Delights | ★★★★ | December 2018
Dad’s Army Radio Hour | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Good, The Bad And The Fifty | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Shape Of the Pain | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Sweet Science Of Bruising | ★★★★ | June 2019
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story | ★★★★★ | September 2019
This Is Not Right | ★★★★ | October 2019
Much Ado About Nothing | ★★★★ | November 2019


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A Song at Twilight

A Song at Twilight

Cambridge Arts Theatre & UK Tour

A Song at Twilight

A Song at Twilight

Cambridge Arts Theatre

Reviewed – 4th March 2019



“Callow’s performance is everything you’d expect”


A Song at Twilight is one of a trio of plays written by Noël Coward (collectively entitled Suite in Three Keys) all of which are set in the same suite in a luxury hotel in Switzerland. This enchanting play was first produced in 1966 and its revival is currently playing at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge as part of a UK Tour.

Upon entering the theatre the audience is greeted by a closed set. When the lights dimmed and the curtain rose we were impressed by Simon Higlett’s fabulous set that successfully recreates an elegant and opulent high windowed hotel suite overlooking a beautiful moonlit lake.

In the original production, set in the mid sixties, Coward himself played the central character of ageing author Sir Hugo Latymer. The part this time is taken by the quintessentially English thespian Simon Callow. Joining him is Jane Asher (Carlotta Grey), Jessica Turner (Lady Hilde Latymer) and Ash Rizi (Felix). 

Stephen Unwin’s direction is near perfect. The cast use the set well and the pace of exchanges in this witty and engaging play means that the attention of the audience is grabbed from the beginning and retained until the curtain call. The lighting (Ben Ormerod) whilst simple, subtly and effectively changes with the moods of the events that unfold.

Callow’s performance is everything you’d expect from an actor of his status and reputation, in fact the whole cast was outstanding throughout.  Jessica Turner spends a fair amount of time offstage but whilst onstage she expertly projects the various layers of Hilde’s personality. Jane Asher is perfectly cast and produces a stylish and elegant performance that shines throughout the evening. Whilst taking a smaller role Ash Rizi delivers an assured performance as the discreet waiter.

Overall I found this to be a very enjoyable evening in a welcoming Cambridge theatre, watching a multi layered piece of work with a tremendous cast. It is a highly recommended production.


Reviewed by Steve Sparrow

Photography by Nobby Clark


A Song at Twilight

Cambridge Arts Theatre until 9th March then UK tour continues


Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
Cream Tea & Incest | ★★★★ | Hope Theatre | April 2018
Pressure | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | April 2018
Grotty | ★★★★ | The Bunker | May 2018
Stitchers | ★★★½ | Jermyn Street Theatre | June 2018
The Play About my Dad | ★★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | June 2018
Oklahoma! | ★★★★ | The Gordon Craig Theatre | August 2018
Square Rounds | ★★★ | Finborough Theatre | September 2018
Sundowning | ★★★★ | Tristan Bates Theatre | October 2018
Drowned or Saved? | ★★★★ | Tristan Bates Theatre | November 2018
Head-rot Holiday | ★★★★ | Hope Theatre | November 2018


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