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Print Version
Photo: Paul McLaughlin
Photo: Paul McLaughlin
by Charles Dickens
Presented by Ray Henwood

at Circa Two - return season, Wellington
From 30 Nov 2013 to 21 Dec 2013

Reviewed by Maryanne Cathro, 5 Dec 2013

Ray Henwood's reading of A Christmas Carol is back this year, by popular demand. Christmas is a time for traditions and so this return season feels like something of a tradition in the making.

Henwood gives us the story, as written, and as read aloud many times by Charles Dickens himself. The deliciousness of the language when spoken reveals Dickens' incredible talent for storytelling. And his story is in the best of hands, or voices, in this reading.

I cannot describe this better than I did last year, so I quote my own review, “Henwood's voice has the satisfying depth and range of the perfect Christmas dinner, from turkey to plum pudding. Dickens' words are very much at home in his lilting cadences, brimming with humour and pathos.”

All is warm and bright: the set and costume, sound and lighting – except when it is appropriately cold and scary – are all just so. Occasional image projections onto a fluttering muslin curtain are enough to help set the mood and tone of the different scenes, all of them illustrations from an early edition of the book and so adding no more than they would have originally. The evocative descriptions of Dickens' text need little visual back up after all.

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol to try to put a human face on the plight of the poor and desperate. Its success in creating a tradition of generosity at Christmas time is due in no small part to the vivid portraits of real people, like the Cratchetts. It is a great story deserving of its place in our culture.

This performance of the story is the best possible way to discover, or rediscover, the story. It is an immensely enjoyable addition to the Christmas preparations. Like the panto happening next door, for me it nails the mood and fun of Christmas more than any office Christmas party will ever do.
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 Maryanne Cathro
 Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media]
 Lynn Freeman (Capital Times);