A Christmas Carol
22 December 2023
Charles Dickens Museum
4.5 out of 5.0 stars
In case you haven’t noticed yet, I absolutely love A Christmas Carol and try to see as many different versions of it as I can each December. This year, the Charles Dickens Museum is hosting a reading of the beloved story right on its premises, curated and performed by James Swanton, whose recent performance at The Quatermass Experiment really impressed me.
Before the show, visitors are invited to wander the museum itself, which is located in the Dickenses’ family home on 48 Doughty Street and displays the rooms as they were in Victorian London when Charles lived here with his wife and children. It’s the perfect setting for this classic Christmas tale.
In a mid-size room upstairs, decked out with a large Christmas tree next to a decorated fireplace, rows of chairs are set up for the audience. It’s a small setting that gives space for this intimate performance.
Swanton, dressed in a black Victorian coat and top hat, strides into the room and immediately throws himself into the story, embodying all the characters with distinctive voices, posture, and gestures. This is an absolute masterclass in one-man-performances, giving a rich and engaging presentation with Swanton’s signature physical theatre, strong voice work, and impressive facial gymnastics.
It is an abridged version of the text, lasting roughly an hour, but still keeping the most important points of the story true to their nature. Swanton especially focuses on the emotional development of Scrooge throughout his haunting, giving life to the beloved grouch.
A fantastic, moody version of A Christmas Carol in the perfect setting!