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It’s the classic Christmas story. Whether it’s the Dickensian feel of Victorian England, the spooky ghosts, or the moral of the story that money can’t buy happiness unless it’s shared with those you love, people all over the world gather year after year to retell A Christmas Carol.
This December, if you’re lucky, you might just snag a seat at Ensemble Theatre for a special adaptation written by playwright Hilary Bell and directed by Damien Ryan. In this version the Crummle family warmly welcomes you to their hearth and invites you to gather around the piano to sing some festive tunes and join Ebenezer Scrooge in learning the perils and potentials of Christmases past, present and future.
There are casts with great chemistry and there are casts that are truly a family, and the latter is absolutely the case in this production. Almost everyone takes on multiple roles – none so many as Emily McKnight, who single-handedly covers six roles including a puppet and plays the flute on top of it without breaking a sweat – and are in constant movement yet the choreography is seamless, comfortable. They’re so clearly having a wonderful time, and it resonates with the audience. John Bell is exactly as miserly as you want Scrooge to be, each ‘Bah, humbug!’ a delight; Anthony Taufa’s range is brilliant, at once charming and affable as Fred and Fezziwig and terrifying as Xmas Present; and Jay James-Moody brings the levity that makes this ghost story as festive and joyful as it is.
Staging comprises a piano and pianist in centre stage, surrounded by floor to ceiling sheer curtains. It’s an equally inviting and adaptable set up. I enjoyed the presence of other instruments on stage as well as props and costume pieces left out for the cast to grab when needed; it felt like the audience was being given a glimpse into how all the different components of a theatre production come together.
It’s a feel-good classic adapted beautifully for the stage, at once nostalgic and delightfully original. A great choice for a holiday-time jaunt to the theatre.
Cabernet Sauvignon | Wine Pairing
Cab Sauv is the classic red wine, in that it’s one of the most popular varietals planted around the world. Offering the flavour of summer berries, warm spices and woody notes, as well as that vibrant Christmas red colour, it’s a delicious match for A Christmas Carol. And if you’re cringing at the idea of drinking red in the warmer months, never fear – in Australia we serve our red wine too hot! Sit your bottle in the fridge for 5-10 minutes on December 25 and enjoy with Christmas lunch!
My Pick: Robert Stein NV Mudgee Cabernet Sauvignon, Mudgee, NSW
In addition to all of the wonderful characteristics of any Cab Sauv, this bottle by Robert Stein includes some lovely, quintessentially Australian notes like eucalyptus and mint, fitting for Ensemble Theatre’s Aussie take on the British classic story.
A Christmas Carol, Ensemble Theatre | Tasting Notes
|Aussie Season||25 Nov to 29 Dec 2022, Ensemble Theatre|
|Writer||Hilary Bell, adapted from the original Charles Dickens story|
|Theatre Type & Genre||Play, festive, ghost story|
|See it if you like||Christmas stories, classics, Dickensian tales|
|Other Info||this is a ghost story as well as a Christmas story and has some frightening moments – if your little ones scare easily, this probably isn’t the version of A Christmas Carol for them!|
|Wine Pairing||Cabernet Sauvignon|
|Criteria for Wine Pairing||notes of red berries, spices and eucalypus|