The Haunting of Ebeneza Scrooge

Date 23rd October 2021
Society Chorley Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society
Venue Chorley Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Mark Jones
Assistant Director Amber Tabiner

Report

Author: Patricia Connor

We were reminded that Christmas is on its way by the latest very entertaining production from CADOS titled “The Haunting of Ebenezer  Scrooge,” written and directed by Mark Jones with Amber Tabiner as Assistant Director.

The play was adapted from the classic story by Charles Dickens namely  “A Christmas Carol”, it is the story of one man’s journey from miserly curmudgeon to full humanity. A great deal of hard work and thought must have gone into getting this very enjoyable and innovative production just right. The opening title sequence by Ian Robinson was just like watching the beginning of a TV show or a film, the graphic design felt very Gothic and set the scene for the play excellently. 

There was little dialogue in the first few scenes and personally I felt this made the opening of the play a little slow, but I understand that the groundwork was being set for the story to come and this was a minor point as the action quickly picked up and very soon we became immersed in the story.

There was rather a large cast who all gave good strong performances and supported each other as a team.They were led by Dave Reid who gave a first class performance in the demanding role of the main protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge. He managed to convey Scrooge’s inner struggles especially when it came to the fate of Bob’s son Tiny Tim and his own fate in the future, Dave also produced some lovely comic timing when needed. He was very well complemented and strongly supported by Steven Catterall as Bob Cratchit and Tess Lucas as Scrooges housekeeper Mrs Dilber. Jack Vardy was very affable and just right as Fred, Scrooge’s nephew and Fraser Bruce did a good job of playing two very different characters namely The Gentleman and Mr Fezziwig. Libby Burke also gave a very nice performance complementing  Steven very well as Mrs Cratchit. Other members of the cast played the smaller roles between them which were very important to the story, they included Lucia Morrison, Ciaran McGhee, Rebecca Moran, Rob Walsh and Sam Quinn with Amanda Cross as Scrooges mother Mary.

There were four very interesting spirits in this story. We meet the first one on Christmas Eve when Scrooge is visited by the ghostly apparition of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley, well played with conviction by Jacob Lee Prince. Marley is wrapped in chains and money boxes as a punishment for a lifetime of greed, he tells Scrooge that it isn’t too late to change and repent or he too will be condemned to an afterlife carrying heavy chains. We find out that Marley is trying to redeem himself by warning Scrooge and trying to get him to change. He tells Scrooge that three spirits will visit him during the night and to be ready. 

The first visitor is The Ghost of Christmas Past played by Nicola Hayes, who takes Scrooge back to his boyhood, we see young Scrooge (Ciaran McGhee) at boarding school and look at his relationships with his beloved sister Fan, (Rebecca Moran) and his first employer,  Mr Fezziwig. We see Scrooge's  fiancée Belle (Lucia Morrison) ending their relationship as she realises that he will never love her as much as he loves money. And they visit a now-married Belle and see how happy she is with her husband (Rob Walsh).

His second visitor is The Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Steph Threlfall, who takes Scrooge to visit Fred's Christmas party and Bob Cratchit's family where Scrooge learns about their youngest son, Tiny Tim who is seriously ill. The spirit informs Scrooge that Tiny Tim will die unless the course of events changes. 

Lastly Scrooge is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Future, again, played by Nicola Hayes who shows Scrooge a Christmas Day in the future. The silent ghost shows Scrooge, his death and he sees Bob and His wife mourning the death of Tiny Tim. The ghost then allows Scrooge to see a grave with his name on it. Scrooge is inconsolable and pledges to change his ways. Both Nicola and Steph produced very good supernatural strong performances which was important as their characters are also central to the story. These spirits were very different from those we have come to associate with the original story and films from the past, here they were actually ghosts of people who had lived sinful lives, and were also trying to redeem themselves by getting Scrooge to change, which I found very interesting. All the ghosts were helped in their performances by the excellent make up and ghostly visual effects designed by Rebecca Moran and Ellie Brookfield. 

There was just one main set which was Scrooge’s bedroom, other scenes were set by the use of various pieces of furniture and props, making very good use of the stage area. There were also special effects during the performance and the whole production was accompanied by an eclectic mix of music from different genres and times which all worked very well. Congratulations must go to all the backstage workers who all played a very important role in the success of this play. They included; Lighting, sound and visual effects designed by Paul Carr. Sandra Dickinson, whose costumes were excellent as usual and were just right for the period setting of this play. Stage Manager Rebecca Dickinson and the stage crew. Mike Taylor for set design and all the set builders. And the very proficient Technical operators who were Ellie Brookfield and Paul Carr. They all added to the atmosphere and the feel of the play which is necessary in this type of production.

In the end all are redeemed. Tiny Tim gets well and survives and all because of Scrooge who becomes a local much loved philanthropist. Well done to all involved in bringing this very entertaining production to the stage. I had a very enjoyable evening, thank you for inviting me.