For our first ever family trip to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, we were all in for a festive treat! The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Christmas show is suitable for ages 7+ so ideal for our two children, aged 7 and 9. We’d had this in our diary for months and months so our expectations were high.
The kids were initially puzzled by Dickens appearing as the Narrator and needed a few whispers of explanation. Dickens emphasised the social conscience of the story which would “echo down the years” – which is every bit as relevant now as then.
Phil Davis was superb as Ebenezer Scrooge (we remembered him from his fantastic turn in TV series Bleak House back in 2005). Along with the poignant moments, there were brilliant song and dance sequences which had the kids spontaneously singing along with the Christmas carols.
Our youngest (age 7) said that his favourite part was “the picnic with the golden lights” – translate this as being the Christmas party scene with live musicians which was a big hit with the whole audience. The dance sequence was repeated for the encore.
Our 9 year old absolutely loved the Ghost of Christmas Present, her first appearance lounging amongst a banquet had him in fits of giggles. He was also excited to recognise one of the Cratchit children from his school. All the child actors need to be commended, especially Tiny Tim who melted everyone’s hearts.
Along with sumptuous period costumes and sets, The RSC also used high tech to great advantage, such as the magic carpet ride which had the audience bobbing and swaying as it flew over the rooftops.
In the second half, the audience clapped and cheered when worn-down employee Bob Cratchit gave curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge a piece of his mind – I think we’ve all been in that situation but not had the courage!
We felt that the 7+ age limit was just about right in terms of the scare-factor. Waking up the next morning, the first question from the kids was can we go again? today?! High praise indeed.
THE FULL STORY
A Christmas Carol is a play about a mean-spirited and selfish old man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who hates Christmas.
One cold Christmas Eve, Scrooge is unkind to the people who work for him, then refuses to give to charity, and then is rude to his nephew when he invites him to spend Christmas with him.
When Scrooge gets home, he is visited by the ghost of his old business partner Jacob Marley – and then by three ghosts! They are the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future.
The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge on a journey through Christmases from his past, taking Scrooge to see himself as an unhappy child and a young man more in love with money than his fiancé.
The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge his clerk, Bob Cratchit’s family. At Bob Cratchit’s house Scrooge sees Tiny Tim, who is very ill, but full of spirit. The ghost then takes him to see his nephew Fred’s Christmas celebrations – which he had been invited to, but rebuffed.
Finally, The Ghost of Christmas Future terrifies Scrooge by showing him visions of his own death…
The ghosts’ journey through time teaches Scrooge the error of his ways. When he wakes up on Christmas Day he is full of excitement, and buys the biggest turkey in the shop for the Cratchit family before spending the day with his nephew, full of the joys of Christmas.
ABOUT THE SHOW
A brand new adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic – one of the most loved short stories ever written. In one ghostly Christmas night, cold-hearted businessman Ebenezer Scrooge learns to pity himself and to love his neighbour – but is that enough?
A festive tale of redemption and compassion.
David Edgar is one of our greatest living writers. His rich history with the RSC stretches from Destiny in 1976 through the multi-award-winning adaptation of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, to Written on the Heart (2011). Now he returns to Dickens to rediscover the social conscience of this timeless tale.
Rachel Kavanaugh (Alice in Wonderland, 2001; The Merry Wives of Windsor, 2003) directs, fresh from stunning the West End with her award-winning production of Half A Sixpence.
Suitable for ages seven and over and children go half price. Find out more about ticket prices and discounts.
PS – for other Christmas shows and activities around Stratford-upon-Avon check out our What’s On guide!