The holiday season means a whole host of Christmas shows, especially adaptations of A Christmas Carol (two have been programmed at the Arts Theatre alone), but The Flanagan Collective stand out from the crowd with their immersive experience. Complete with parlour games, Christmas crackers and a two-course meal, the company brings to life Dickens’ festive ghost story in spectacular fashion.
Ebenezer Scrooge (Al Barclay) is sitting alone at his desk on Christmas Eve, miserable about the festive season, and refusing to give to charity. Suddenly the ghost of his dead business partner Jacob Marley (Jack Whitam) appears, along with a room full of spirits. Marley and the other ghosts take Scrooge back to the Christmas of his childhood, celebrate Christmas in the present, and show him glimpse of future Christmas, in the hope that he gains some Christmas joy.
This extremely entertaining two-hander is expertly performed by both Barclay and Whitam, who keep the audience engaged throughout the show. As you walk into the space, the long dining table is an indication of the upcoming hearty meal of pies and trimmings, provided by chef Danny Jack. The audience are involved in the story straight away, acting as the spirits alongside Marley’s ghost, so participation feels easy and pleasant. This is of course helped by the cheerful Whitam who guides everyone through each element of the evening with laughter and wit.
Writer Alexander Wright and director Tom Bellerby have brilliantly created an immersive experience that is engrossing, filling, and genuinely fun. Dickens’ story is perfectly weaved around the dinner in the middle of the show, with just the right amount of spookiness necessary for the Victorian setting. If you’re looking for a joyfully festive evening with laughter and great entertainment, A Christmas Carol is the show for you.
A Christmas Carol is at Above the Arts Theatre until 31st December.