The Forge at The Court in the Pub Charity Studio, Christchurch

01/12/2018 - 22/12/2018

Production Details


Back by popular demand, The Court Theatre’s joyful comedy adaptation of A Christmas Carol is returning for more festive fun following two sold-out seasons.

Held at The Court’s studio theatre, The Forge at The Court Theatre, this redemptive comedy is “the Christmas story that people love told in a fun, interactive way,” says writer Dan Bain.

Adapted from Charles Dicken’s classic festive tale, A Christmas Carol follows miserly Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas who try to encourage him to be a more generous man in the spirit of Christmas.

In Bain’s adaptation, two actors and a musician present Dickens’ iconic story, with keen audience members used to round out the cast, playing characters such as the Ghost of Christmas past and members of the Cratchit family.

For those nervous about being pulled up on stage, director Ross Gumbley, who is also the Artistic Director at The Court, is quick to reassure that there’s nothing to be worried about.

“Our philosophy anytime we involve an audience member is we make them the hero and treat them with respect. We take the fall – we have the joke on us, not on the participant. Nobody’s made a fool of.”

Gumbley, who is also The Court’s Artistic Director, is taking on the directorial reigns as Bain steps down after two years in charge of the production.

“I assume he’s very nervous about directing such a prestigious piece of work with such a long and storied track-record of excellence, but I’m sure he’ll give it his best,” Bain says cheekily.

Due to the interactivity of the show, no two sessions of A Christmas Carol will ever truly be the same and this year will be markedly different with the casting of a brand-new Scrooge, played by Gregory Cooper.

Cooper, a former Court Jester, who was recently seen in Roger Hall’s Easy Money and co-wrote That Bloody Woman, is joining co-star Kathleen Burns (Scared Scriptless; The Early Early Late Show) and musician Tom Harris for this Christmas production.  

Bain has revisited his script this year, writing brand-new jokes to entertain new and returning audiences alike. 

For Burns, A Christmas Carol is the perfect way to get yourself into the spirit – and remember what Christmas is all about.

“Like many, I lost that special magical Christmas feeling on becoming an adult… But this show brings all the happy Christmas feelings right back!”

Gumbley thinks the show is a great way to celebrate the end of the year – whether you’re counting down the days ‘till the 25th or see yourself as more of a Scrooge.

A Christmas Carol is for anybody who wants to come and have a good time at the end of the year.”

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A Christmas Carol
The Pub Charity Studio at The Court Theatre
1 – 22 December 2018
Show Sponsor: Phantom Billstickers 
Show Times
Monday & Thursday:  6:00pm
● Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat:  7.00pm
● Forum:  6:30pm Monday 26th November
Discuss the play with cast and creative team after the performance
● Matinee:  4:00pm Saturday 15th December 
Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit www.courttheatre.org.nz
Ticket Prices
Adult:  $20
Senior (65+):  $20
Supporter:  $20
Child (Under 18) :  $15
Group (10+):  $15

Actress:  Kathleen Burns
Actor:  Gregory Cooper
Musician:  Tom Harris 

Writer:  Dan Bain
Director:  Ross Gumbley
Lighting Designer:  Giles Tanner
Sound Designer:  Tom Harris
Stage Manager:  Jo Bunce  

Theatre , Improv ,

They certainly earn their figgy pudding

Review by Ruth Agnew 02nd Dec 2018

Dan Bain’s century straddling Dickensian/ improvised comedy hybrid is fast becoming a Court Theatre Christmas tradition. For those in search of a fun, festive, family-friendly theatrical treat, A Christmas Carol is an excellent addition to your yuletide calendar. 

The brilliance behind Bain’s reimagining of A Christmas Carol is the combination of a traditional seasonal story with contemporary humour. The base material of Scrooge’s miraculous transformation from grinch to do-gooder taps into our fondness for festive familiarity, but rewraps it in a fast-paced comedic race through the tale of the ghosts of past present and future, replete with improvised comedy and audience interaction to appeal to all ages.

Court Jesters Kathleen Burns and Greg Cooper certainly earn their figgy pudding in the 75 minute show, with the two actors swiftly switching roles to personify the most memorable of Dickens’ characters, along with Father Christmas, Jesus Christ Superstar and Jacinda Ardern.

As Burns mentions multiple times, she is a drama school graduate. Fans of the Court Theatre Mainstage, The Forge and Scared Scriptless will be aware of her versatility, appearing in everything from late night improvisation to Titus Andronicus. Burns classic vocal training and comedic chops combine to brilliant effect. One minute she delivers long lines of Victorian verbosity in honey-soaked tones worthy of the RSC, the next she is galloping through the audience in a cloud of glitter dressed as Santa, bellowing “Touch my belly”.

While Cooper claims to be here only by default, having narrowly missed out on the role of Jesus Christ on the other side of the foyer, his casting catastrophe becomes our holiday cheer. His self-deprecating humour and physical comedy make him a firm favourite of the teenage boys in my company.

It is rare to find a play that actually caters to an entire family, but A Christmas Carol pulls off this rare feat. I brought five children along with me, aged 6 to fourteen, and they were all thoroughly entertained.

With only Burns and Cooper – well supported by muso Tom Harris – to embody so many roles, there is a lot of audience interaction. The night I attend, the two youngest volunteers steal the show from the professionals, going off script and adding unexpected pathos and hilarity to their cameos. The unpredictability of involving unwitting actors adds to the fun, and makes each performance delightfully different.

Dan Bain handed the directorial reins to Ross Gumbley this year, but his clever comedic style is still evident in the clever quips and unexpected references in the script.  

The children accompanying me keep laughing well after the cast has left the stage, and all love the interactive aspects the most. For those who have been to previous productions in the last two years, this incarnation is definitely deserving of a return visit, and for families looking for a new Christmas tradition, I heartily recommend A Christmas Carol


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