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Watermill evokes the spirits of Christmas

Dickens' classic opens at Bagnor theatre

Trish Lee

Trish Lee

trish.lee@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886663

Watermill Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until January 3

Review by ROBIN STRAPP

THE festive season has started and a what a joy to experience live theatre, following the lockdown, with The Watermill’s highly impressive production of A Christmas Carol, splendidly adapted by Danielle Pearson.

This classic tale is inventively directed by Georgie Straight, who creates some wonderful magical touches. It is
imaginatively performed by two highly-talented actor/musicians, who skilfully play a variety of instruments and have woven a variety of Christmas carols and seasonal songs into the story which they sing beautifully.

They are both superb storytellers. Tilly-Mae Millbrook is the delightful narrator of this haunting moralistic ghost story and cleverly plays many of the other characters, using just a different accent, a hat, a scarf or a change of costume to create all of them and they are totally convincing.

Pete Ashmore gives an outstanding powerful performance as the bitter, bad-tempered Scrooge whose life is about to change forever. He is visited by his long-dead business partner, Jacob Marley, who pleads with him to change his ways before it’s too late and also to expect some ghostly visitations when the church bell strikes one in the morning.

He encounters the Ghost of Christmas Past, mysteriously created from a lamp, who reminds him of his childhood days at school, his apprenticeship to Mr Fezziwig and his extraordinary Christmas parties and happier times as a youth.

His second visitation is the Ghost of Christmas Present, who takes him to the home of his long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit and his poor family including his disabled son Tiny Tim, imaginatively created by using just a crutch and hat and the magic of theatre.

More frightening is the Ghost of Christmas To Come, when Scrooge learns of his awful fate. It is this visit that finally persuades him to change his ways and he is given a second chance to make amends and eventually find happiness by being kind to others.

Isobel Nicolson’s atmospheric set with dark grey brick walls with washing hanging on lines and old gaslights creates Dickens’ squalid London. Look out for the shadow puppets and some ingenious projections.

There are beautifully-designed costumes by Emily Barratt. Together with Harry Armytage’s evocative lighting and Tom Marshall’s sound design, this is a true Christmas
treat.

A visit to The Watermill to see this captivating production should definitely be on your Christmas wish list.

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