Sell out performances for young Horncastle actors as they bring classic seasonal favourite

Final curtain call for Horncastle Upstagers after their sell out production of A Christmas Carol EMN-181220-071407001
Final curtain call for Horncastle Upstagers after their sell out production of A Christmas Carol EMN-181220-071407001

Review by Chris Hinkins

Horncastle Upstagers, the older of the two youth groups attached to Horncastle Theatre Company, presented a very entertaining production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted by David Ireland, at the Lion Theatre.

This version put the familiar story in its historical context, highlighting the dreadful poverty and deprivation which existed in Victorian Britain, in stark contrast to the pretty Christmas card images which are so often used to portray those times.

The message of the story – that it is every well-off person’s responsibility to help alleviate the suffering of those less fortunate – was clearly carried by both the script and the talented young cast.

The production featured a large and enthusiastic group of youngsters.

To single out a few is not to take away anything away from the others – all gave of their best – but particular credit must be given to Joseph Bramley’s commanding and measured performance as Scrooge.

It was a pleasure to watch how well he portrayed the personality change at the end of the play.

Also worthy of special mention were Alex Alder, a hugely likeable Bob Cratchit, and Kit Forrester, who played an equally genial Fred.

The three Christmas Spirits - Sophie Head, Beth Swann and Isla Town - were suitably disturbing links between the real world and the supernatural.

The two Fezziwigs, Sam Clarke and Ellie-Mae Swinson, portrayed their roles with evident enjoyment and made the most of their brief cameo appearances. And, of course, all were suitably upstaged by young Suzi Shackleton, who made an adorable Tiny Tim, much appreciated by the audience.

Technically the show had much to offer. Lighting and sound were excellent, with much use made of back projection, which always adds an extra dimension to any production.

The transformation of the door knocker into Marley’s face and Scrooge’s spooky gravestone were particularly effective, and the graphic contemporary pictures of workhouse life were an eye-opener.

The costumes were particularly good; all completely suited their characters, and nothing looked as if it had been cut-down to fit the younger actors – they were a delight.

Special mention must be made of the specially written songs (which the cast obviously enjoyed) and incidental music by Richard Shepherd, that did much to enhance the performance.

Congratulations to the whole production team for such a successful show.

○ A Christmas Carol played over three nights and was a sell out.

Horncastle Young Stagers was founded in 1985 to provide a total theatrical experience for children and young people of Horncastle and surrounding areas.

Initially it was for nine to 14-year-olds but over the subsequent years it has extended from seven to 18-year-olds across two groups.