Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

07/12/2012 - 22/12/2012

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

30/11/2013 - 21/12/2013

Production Details

by Charles Dickens

presented by RAY HENWOOD

A delightful pre-Christmas treat 

Highly-acclaimed actor Ray Henwood is delighted to present A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – the story that gave us Christmas traditions in which we still indulge today.

In this 200th year anniversary of Dickens’ birth it is timely to re-visit this most loved story and the characters who have become synonymous with the good will and happiness of the human spirit – Bob Cratchet, Tiny Tim as well as the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Not forgetting the penny pinching, unfeeling, sour and stingy Ebernezer Scrooge.  

First published in 1843, A Christmas Carol met with instant success and critical acclaim. It still remains hugely popular, has never been out of print, and has been adapted to film, stage, opera, and other media multiple times.

Dickens was one of the first writers to read his own work in public and the first of his novels that he read was A Christmas Carol. In the intimate Circa Two, Ray says that his solo dramatised reading will provide the perfect ambience. No stranger to solo shows he has had previously had great pleasure in performing Playing Burton, Nogood Boyo, The Carer and All the World’s A Stage, all of which received rave reviews. He received a Best Actor Chapman Tripp Award for Playing Burton.

The talented production team for A Christmas Carol includes Dramaturg Ross Jolly, Set Designer Phillip Markham and Lighting Designer Ulli Briese.

Audiences are invited to treat themselves to the true meaning of the Christmas spirit with the wonderful words of the immortal Charles Dickens.   

A glorious journey of self redemption             


SEASON: 7 – 22 December 2012
Performance times:
$25 SPECIALS:  Preview: Wed 5th 7.30pm & Sun 9th 4.30pm.
Tues & Wed 6pm, Thurs-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4.30pm

TICKETS: Adults $46 | Friends of Circa $33 | Groups 6+ $39, 20+ $36 | Seniors/Students $38 | Under 25s $25

BOOKINGS: CIRCA THEATRE, 1 Taranaki Street, Phone 801 7991 www.circa.co.nz

Pre-show dinner available at Encore – phone 801 7996  

RETURN SEASON: 30th November – 21 December 2013

A delightful pre-Christmas treat

“…rich plum pudding of a performance” LAURIE ATKINSON, DOMINION POST 

“…brimming with humour and pathos” – THEATREVIEW 

Performance times: Tues-Sat 7pm
Sun 4.30pm
Preview: Fri 29th Nov 7pm  & Sun 1ST Dec 4.30pm 

Adults $46
Friends of Circa $33 (to 15th Dec)
Groups 6+ $39, 20+ $36
Seniors/Students $38 
Under 25s $25

Ph 801 7992 www.circa.co.nz 

Pre Show dinner available at Encore 
$40 for a three-course Christmas menu and a complimentary glass of house wine. 
Bookings ph: 801 7996 www.encoreatcirca.co.nz 

ROSS JOLLY:  Dramaturg

Lighting:  ULLI BRIESE
Costumes:  GILLIE COXHILL   

Theatre , Solo ,

An immensely enjoyable addition to the Christmas preparations

Review by Maryanne Cathro 05th 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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Delightful pre-Christmas fare

Review by Lynn Freeman 14th Dec 2012

It’s a ritual – playing the 1977 TV version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol starring the late Michael Hordern and John Le Mesurier. It feels even older than that, very basic sfx for the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, but that’s a great part of its charm. Dickens doesn’t need Weta Digital to make his words and characters speak to us still.

Ray Henwood’s solo show is even more literal than my much loved TV version. He reads the short story, acting out big chunks of it. It was a delight to hear lines I’d forgotten and which ended up on the cutting room floor when my beloved TV version went to air. To be honest though, this theatre production would work just as well if not better as a radio play with Henwood’s glorious voice the real star of the production.

The direction is workmanlike, but the standing up and sitting down at the lectern as Henwood flits between Scrooge and the visitors to his dark and cold office is clumsy and distractingly noisy.

The images of the spirits are projected onto a sheet which does the trick, though it is limiting for the actor who has to turn away from us to address them.

As pre-Christmas fare, it is a delightful couple of hours away from the craziness of sales, shopping and parties, and a reminder of the real spirit of Christmas.


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Rich plum pudding of a rendition

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Dec 2012

‘Has much changed?’ is a question asked by Ray Henwood in the programme of his production of A Christmas Carol when we compare Victorian society with our own. Human nature hasn’t improved and Dickens’s message of the necessity of simple kindness, good cheer and redemption is as important as ever.

While watching Ray Henwood’s rich plum pudding of a performance I realised that though I knew the story well I had no recollection of having either read A Christmas Carol or seen it on stage or screen. I suppose it’s like Oliver’s ‘Please sir, I want some more’; everyone has absorbed it as part of the culture but a great many people have never actually read the novel.

Henwood also states that he tried to hold onto the concept of ‘a reading’ which is how Dickens first presented it in public before the numerous pirated play versions were created during his lifetime. But he also adroitly moves between a reading, which he does at a lectern, and a performance during which he casts aside the book and brings Scrooge and the rest into three-dimensional life.

The suitably miserly setting, ably lit by Ulli Briese, is occasionally embellished with some simple magic lantern effects; the sighting by Scrooge of Marley’s face in the very large door knocker is the most effective.

But the real pleasure of the performance lies in Henwood’s ability to make the words sing. His reading of the description of the Second Spirit’s Christmas feast is just marvellous as he enjoys the lavishness of language that Dickens uses to describe it (‘barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples…immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch’).

He also brings out the humour in the writing but without overstating it so that the opening passage about Marley being dead as a door-nail gently leads us into the ‘Ghostly little book’ as Dickens described it. He finds humour in unexpected lines; for example, by bringing one’s attention to ‘exclusive of the fringe’ in the description of Bob’s scarf: ‘with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before him.”

A Christmas treat. 


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As satisfying an ensemble piece as a solo performance can ever be

Review by Maryanne Cathro 08th Dec 2012

Dickens’ Christmas story of Scrooge’s redemption is almost as famous as the one about the baby, the virgin and the stable; indeed I suspect that more versions of it have been produced for stage and TV. And yet, while all of these adaptations may capture the story, I wonder how many of us have read the original novella, or heard it read?

Ray Henwood’s solo performance has reminded me that the words, as written, are the best possible version. Every word spoken comes from the original text, presented as a mixture of enactment and story telling. It is a story meant to be heard, and it truly comes alive in this performance. 

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.

Matching that richesse are equally rich production values: Gillie Coxhill’s costumes, particularly the velvet waistcoat glowing like whisky in a cut crystal tumbler; Ulli Briese’s lighting; Ross Jolly’s sound design and Philip Markham’s simple but evocative set. All of these wrap themselves around the story teller and become as one with the story itself. It is as satisfying an ensemble piece as a solo performance can ever be.

I am trying to avoid using the word ‘dramatised’ in describing this reading, as drama is also the opposite of comedy, and this is a very funny show. Many spontaneous belly laughs broke out on opening night. But to ensure no-one is left thinking that Henwood stands at a lectern and simply reads, he is enacting the words; moving through the space and story from counting room to bed, from past to future, inhabiting the characters in voice and body as they appear in the story.

I have in previous reviews called Circa Two my Happy Place, and this show adds to my happiness. It is enjoyable, uplifting, thought provoking and entertaining. It is a privilege to see such talent in such an intimate venue.  

I would dearly love to look out upon the audience however and see more people under 40 appreciating an experience that would be just as entertaining for them as for the wise older heads who know where to find the ‘good stuff’ happening. 


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