A CHRISTMAS CAROL A Creation Theatre Production at The North Wall Theatre, Oxford. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Revising a classic, and bringing something new to the table, is always a challenge, especially a festive favourite like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

And yet Creation has attacked the Victorian morality tale with gusto, pumping it full of glee, energy and animation, complete with howling ghouls, creeking coffins, Justin Bieber songs, humour, horror and sangfroid. BOOK HERE

A Christmas Carol. Pics by Geraint Lewis

Scrooge (played by Nicholas Osmond) really is despicable, not just mean and nasty but irredeemably repellent, picking the coins off his dead partner’s eyes and placing them in his pocket, unable to resist his all-consuming avarice and penny-pinching, charity a dirty word.

‘Creation takes this tale of redemption and shakes it forcefully’

What writer and director Gari Jones does so admirably is take this tale of redemption and shake it forcefully, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future manifested as terrifying mental and physical reincarnations to haunt us all.

But whenever it gets a bit tense, Creation blasts in with a witty exchange, song, dance or joke, changing the tempo with bawdiness and innuendo, and ensuring that the script whips along at a cracking pace, keeping us on the edge of our seats, and on our toes, throughout.

A Christmas Carol pics by Geraint Lewis

This is in no small part to the multi-tasking cast who nip in and out of character with alacrity, ensuring that Dickens’ colourful crew is fully spoken for with boundless enthusiasm, stamina and range.

Highlights include Anna Tolputt‘s flippant Present Ghost, Herb Cuanalo‘s ghostly Marley, Graeme Rose‘s Fred (Scrooge’s nephew) and the sepulchral Future Ghost, the joyous Emily Woodward as Martha (Cratchit) and chameleon Hayley Murray as her mother.

A Christmas Carol pics by Geraint Lewis

A poignant footnote, is that Gareth Jones, who composed the show’s highly original music, died in June 2022, and Creation is determined to honour him by ensuring 2023’s A Christmas Carol is one to remember.

It does this, not only through its ambitious sets, costumes and indeed cast, but endears itself further by interjecting a pared back, honest element to its theatre-making, ensuring that the intimate, in-the-round experience at The North Wall, is all the more enjoyable.

A Christmas Carol. Pics by Geraint Lewis

Great fun, edgy and unique as ever, albeit not for the very young, Creation’s A Christmas Carol offers a perfect family alternative to panto, while ensuring that the Victorian classic is as relevant as ever.

A Christmas Carol runs at North Wall until Jan 6. BOOK HERE