The Three Ships Collective, with the support of Soup Can Theatre, presents an intimate and deeply moving presentation of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Set in the Campbell House Museum, the story unfolds as the audience follows the actors through those elegant old rooms, bringing an immersive tangibility to an already atmospheric and affecting tale.
The redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old curmudgeon, has so permeated our culture and the Christmas tradition, that it is almost in danger of being taken for granted. And this is precisely why I love to reacquaint myself with it, year after year: to never let the story settle into a dusty remembrance. Though I have my preferred versions, the power of Dickens’ story never fails to make me smile and reduce me to tears.
And this production, which now holds a very special place in my heart, is no different.
Playwright Justin Haigh’s adaptation doesn’t rely too heavily on dialogue lifted from the source, though his original material captures, remarkably well, the essence of Dickens’. And, of course, he keeps many of the best bits which you simply can’t forgo without disappointing folks familiar with the story.
The whole ensemble has charming chemistry and their individual turns are clear and compelling. They can fill a room with genuine merriment, as in Fezziwig’s Christmas party, or the heavy despair of the Cratchit family’s Christmas without Tiny Tim.
I do have some favourites:
As Scrooge, Thomas Gough is a commanding presence, even when he is silently watching from the side. As joyous scenes suddenly turn grim and sorrowful, his gradual understanding and growing compassion have a visceral weight.
Marcel Dragonieri gives an eerie and arresting portrayal of Jacob Marley, balancing the torment and compassionate urgency that define the character. He also serves as our narrator, beckoning us from room to room with endearing gestures that become increasingly comical.
Heather Marie Annis is riveting in all three of her roles. As Belle, Scrooge’s long-lost love, she exudes a warm playfulness which is truly devastating to see drain away when she must confront his cruel indifference. As Alice, she presents a bright echo of the love that Scrooge lost—a clever casting decision that resonates. In her final role as the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come, even in a fully concealing dark shroud, she radiates an ominous energy with simple gestures that are genuinely chilling.
Kat Letwin’s drunken and wisecracking Ghost of Christmas Present is quite a treat. It is a truly satisfying comic performance, though Letwin gives the character dimensions that keep it from slipping into schtick.
Not all of the rooms allow for comfortable viewing and you may have to crouch, lean or get really cosy with a stranger, but no scene is long enough to become a strain and the one that follows will likely offer a chair or ample breathing room. And regardless, once the actors cast their spell, you’ll be sucked completely into the world they inhabit.
A Christmas Carol is an enchanting, heartwarming production.