Dickens tale with a difference

ct a christmas carol TALENTED: Fiona Tanner and Brendon Spiro in A Christmas Carol -- More or Less.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL -- MORE OR LESS. A two-act light-hearted take by Stefano LoVerso and Mary Irey on the Charles Dickens story. Director Sheila McCormick. Set/Lighting Fin McCormick. Sound Robert Minshall. Presented by Milnerton Players. Milnerton Playhouse from Thursday to Saturday. SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews.

CO-AUTHORS Stefano LoVerso and Mary Irey have taken Charles Dickens’s famous 1843 novella and turned it into a fast-moving two-hander play… with a difference.

By donning period hats, coats, scarves, wigs and switching accents, between Sarah (Fiona Tanner) and Charlie (Brendon Spiro), the two portrayed the gamut of Dickens’s well-known characters.

On Tanner rested the bulk of these portrayals. This required considerable energised skill to keep momentum going. Yet this talented young person effortlessly switched from being Sarah to acting umpteen Dickens characters… while prodding Charlie along to “act out” being Scrooge.

Tanner’s most telling scenes were as the Ghost of Christmas Past and her quicksilver changes into the various Cratchit family members sitting around their Christmas dinner table. There, by using a crutch, topped by a child’s cap, she compassionately brought home Tiny Tim’s sad plight.

As Charlie, Spiro initially appeared insecure – a problem not helped by directing his voice upstage. However, once he shrugged himself into Scrooge’s shabby frock coat and snarled up his features he appeared more at ease, presenting an acceptable interpretation of Scrooge’s transformation from grumpy miser to kindly fellow.

Within an unexpectedly limited rehearsal time frame, director Sheila McCormick needed to draw upon her long theatre experience to put on a worthwhile show. And she succeeded remarkably well.

In this she was assisted by Fin McCormick’s excellent multipurpose set and lighting designs. Cracks and damp patches emphasised the shabbiness of Scrooge’s rooms and the poverty of Bob Cratchit’s dwelling. Robert Minshall’s eerie sound effects highlighted the three spectral Christmas figures.

Although the play’s conclusion somewhat petered out, LoVerso and Irey’s A Christmas Carol – More or Less, captured the Dickens message… our need to care for those around us. So do take the family along to the Milnerton Playhouse.

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