New version from Neil Duffield and Andrew Panton promises to be ‘Victorian with a twist’
The role of Scrooge has been played by everyone from Tommy Steele to an animated duck. This year, at Edinburgh’s Lyceum, it’s Christopher Fairbank’s turn to steel his grisly chops and become the meanest bean counter to pull on a fingerless glove.
For director Andrew Panton, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one story that’s strong enough to withstand regular and varied retelling, even at the hands of Disney. ‘The youngsters in the audience might know the animated version with Jim Carrey. The adults might remember Scrooge McDuck.’ They may even have seen the National Theatre of Scotland’s award-winning recent version or read the book. ‘But we have to do it like it’s the first time the story has ever been told.’
While Panton’s background is in musical theatre, he is adamant that this is not a musical, but a show with lots of music: the cast play instruments and sing carols, and composer Claire McKenzie’s atmospheric score adds to the mood.
Neil Duffield’s adaptation locates the tale in what Panton describes as ‘a traditional Dickensian setting – but we are not doing it traditionally’. Instead, he promises it is ‘Victorian with a twist’.
Will this be enough to make a story published in 1843 come alive for the One Direction generation? Panton is quietly confident. ‘We all make decisions that we would change if we had the chance to go back. Kids today are not any different. I want to give them something they can’t experience in front of a computer.’
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 28 Nov 2013–Sat 4 Jan 2014