Tuesday 16 December 1986

A Christmas Carol

Left to right: Masie Pratt, Laine Coward, and Stephen Campbell-Curtis,
three of the cast members of A Christmas Carol.


.Curiosity Productions staged A Christmas Carol at Warminster Arts Centre on 11th, 12th and 13th December 1986.

Danny Howell went along to see the show and has written this review:

The publicity for this new adaptation of the classic Dickens' tale with a moral twist, promised ghosts, carols, dancing, fun, laughter and tears. We certainly got all six, even though the audience is not necessarily expected to laugh aloud at what is, after all, a sad story of poverty and selfishness, etc.

Like others, I laughed. I laughed a lot.

The humorous highlight was for me Masie Pratt's delightful dance as Mrs Dilber, deliberately falling backwards and ending up on her bottom. I hope she was padded!

That was a clever ploy of playwright K. Lindsay, providing some light relief when the storyline is apt to be flat and gloomy.

It gave me the giggles and so did the arrival of Scrooge's gift of a turkey to Bob Cratchit and family. I don't know where he did his Christmas shopping but it was a very funny moment when something resembling a charred and pregnant albatross (or was it a Great Bustard from Salisbury Plain?) was duly delivered on stage.

All the props were excellent, so too was the set, and full marks must go to all those involved in both departments.

All was complemented by some skilful and effective lighting which brought the Dickensian characters truly to life.

The cast were a mixed bunch of experienced amateurs and never-befores; the latter being mainly box office staff and Arts Centre volunteers who were given the chance to tread the boards for the first time. This part of the production was reiterated for the audience when they purchased their drinks from the bar during the interval, because they were served by persons who had been entertaining them on stage only moments before.

Performance-wise, they were all competent, with not a show of nerves to be seen or a prompter to be heard, but to be fair it must be said the experienced actors were discernable from the first-timers, as was to be expected.

Keith Bratt (Scrooge) and Barry Mole (Marley's Ghost) carried the show through its paces and gave the all-important lead to the newcomers.

On a constructive note, I would have preferred it if more of the players had addressed their lines to the audience, rather than to each other with their backs to the audience, as they sometimes did. This was particularly evident during the early scenes and allowing for the fact that I was sat in the back row of the balcony, I did find it difficult to catch all of the words during the first part of the show.

Apart from this, the performance appeared faultless. Barry Mole's 'Marley's Ghost' was so scary and convincing, a young child who was sat in front of me, burst into tears and climbed on to his mother's lap in the adjacent seat, burying his head into her chest until the chain-rattling spectre had disappeared.

Later on, Scrooge's transformation when he finally realised with the help of all three ghosts, the error of his ways, sent Keith Bratt into an airy-fairy dance. A lack of reaction from his colleagues on stage, I think, stopped him going completely over the top and spared us further embarrassment. However, his antics were certainly sufficient to convince the house-full audience that Scrooge had well and truly changed for the better.

Indeed, Act Two was far brighter than the opening scenes, and instilled in everyone a message for how to spend Christmas 1986. The snow shower which preceded the final curtain gave everyone a laugh and nudged us all into gear with the festive spirit.

A Christmas Carol was an enjoyable show, warranting nine out of ten for effort, bravado and presentation.

When will we see the same cast again?

Full Cast list:
Scrooge - Keith Bratt.
Cratchit - Simon Bonner.
Mrs Cratchit - Pam Blomfield.
Nephew - Mark Rundle.
Dora - Jenny Rundle.
Dora's mother - Monica Bratt.
Fezziwig - John Kelly.
Mrs Fezziwig - Mamie Kelly.
Ghost of Christmas present - Barry Mole.
Ghost of Christmas future - Steve Campbell-Curtis.
Benevolent lady - Marianne Minshull.
Mrs Dilber - Masie Pratt.
Joe - Harry Barnet.
Belle - Laine Coward.
Young Scrooge - Richard White.
Schoolmaster - Len Coles.
Caroline - Anna Tomalin.
Emily - Alison Blomfield.
Topper - Ian Trout.
Martha - Jacky Blomfield.
Children - Shem Newman, Steven Major, Lee Major, Ben Stuart and Edward Rundle.