God Bless Us Everyone! Even Mr. Scrooge!

Mr. Charles Dickens Presents

A Christmas Carol

Walker Theatre


It is 175 years since Mr. Dickens first put quill to velum to bring us the most favourite story of our great Christmas season. A Christmas Carol. It is hard to believe that a piece of work so relevant and so fresh can be so old, but it is and for all those decades this allegorical tale of Mr. Scrooge delights and warns us all every year. Some even hold Mr. Dickens responsible for shaping the Christmases we all know and love.

More prevalent than the ubiquitous Sound of Music at Christmas, A Christmas Carol has been part of our British Psyche for as long as anyone can remember. This created a lot of pressure then for John O’Connor who brought, A Christmas Carol, to Walker Theatre tonight. However his elegant and highly verbose Mr. Dickens was an absolute triumph. Just as generations of Children and Adults before us we sat breathless as Mr. O’Connor’s descriptions of the foul spectres were so well observed that we were there, in that terrible bed chamber belonging to old Ebenezer himself.

Mr. O’Connor found the right level. He spoke to the audience as Dickens most surely would. In those days , of course and thanks to the lack of British Education, people had less ability with the written word and short of having these stories told to them they would have died bereft of anything that was later to go on to become embedded in our culture. So what Dickens did then, taking his stories on the road, was so important to the understanding and access to this writer’s work even now, so long after he wrote it.

This show is such a well-directed piece. Peter Craze, as Director, found all the pauses, the gestures, the pace and timing of how Dickens may well have told his tales. He has been able to work with John O’Connor and evidence of good directing is found throughout the piece. Maybe O’Connor’s hand gestures when playing Scrooge were a little melodramatic, but the Victorians loved that, they loved all the pomp, mystery and authority in which Dickens told his tales. Between them Craze and O’Connor had that balance right and the show works like a well oiled and well run machine. It feels safe.

 John O’Connor gains the award for best memory in the house. Heaven only knows how many thousands of words he learned but there wasn’t a single hitch or slip. Mr. O’Connor proving then that the human mind is a wonderful thing just as soon as one can master it. So many of us never do; fortunately Mr. Charles Dicken’s did and we are all the richer for it.

Tom Paris’ set was aesthetically pleasing and cleverly constructed. Rather like two large books about 7.5 foot tall with a silk screen between the two books. The books then open up to create the sideboards of a generic sitting room in London . Downstage right we have a magic lantern projector and there is a tall boy and chair on the stage. With such limited props and furniture Mr. O’Connor creates a plethora of characters each of them thoroughly entertaining and each one as different from the next as can be.

Sounds and lights came together well. Sound was discreet and always complimentary and the light gave a darker gas lit feel to the set and that is what the designers intended. Matt Eaton and Duncan Hands worked well together and brought the set to life with their subtle shades and changes. Good work from both.

Annet Black’s costume design gave us our Charles Dickens. Tall, intelligent, dashing and a little bit handsome. The perfect Victorian Man.

In our history this was a simply dreadful time. The inequality was obvious and the poverty so widespread this was an England we might have found rather difficult to live in. Charles Dickens, with his stories and his observations on inequalities; and how he spells them out, should hopefully keep us reminded of how a country might go when 90% of the country’s wealth is held by 10% of the people. Some might argue we don’t need reminding, they too are right but as a tract on social injustice a Christmas Carol can be measured as such.

The team of this show are to be congratulated. It is a well presented and beautifully understood piece of Dickens. It is the season to be jolly and how better than to be Jolly with the inventor of the great whimsical British Ideal of Christmas.

This is a Four Star Review

Owen J Lewis


Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to loveshrewsbury.com for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

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