A Christmas Carol, The European Arts Company, The Old Courtroom, Brighton, December 5-7. Reviewed in advance at the Discovery Centre, Winchester.
You can watch it as a cartoon or as a musical. You can watch it with an all-star cast. You can even watch it with the Muppets should you so wish.
But John O’Connor’s superb one-man rendition of A Christmas Carol, delivered precisely as Dickens himself would have delivered it, takes us directly to the heart – the huge, angry, compassionate heart – of this most remarkable story.
O’Connor holds us utterly entranced with his remarkable feat. His towering achievement is to make us see it and feel it all so deeply, so vividly and so compellingly.
We are there at the Cratchits’ humble Christmas dinner, there when the Ghost of Christmas past so devastatingly throws Scrooge’s mean-spirited words back at him, there when Bob Cratchit shames his employer – in his supposed absence – by toasting him as the founder of the feast.
We are there too in a Christmas which might yet be avoided, a Christmas when Bob will walk a little slower, a Christmas when there will be an agonising, damning absence.
O’Connor leaves us in no doubt as to Dickens’ cold fury, but he also gives us the warmth and generosity of his splendid soul in a tale for all time.
O’Connor is mesmerising – and as haunting as the ghosts he conjures before our eyes. Beautiful, urgent, important and utterly brilliant.