My family’s Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to our favourite theatre, the Rose in nearby Kingston, to see their annual Christmas Production. There so are so many aspects that make this our favourite performance of the season that is difficult to pinpoint them all, but the wonderful performances from the young cast of the Rose Youth Theatre is definitely a key element. As a parent of three school-age children, it is easy for me to imagine and commitment and hours of practice that goes into the performances as well as the pride their friends and families must feel to see them perform in such a professional production.
The Rose Theatre is a wonderful theatre that manages to retain an intimate feel. The sofa styles seats are particularly comfortable for those with smaller children who inevitably wriggle and want the occasional cuddle or whisper in their parents ear. We find it very accessible, right in the centre of Kingston, which is a lovely place to do some last minute Christmas shopping or enjoy a pre or post theatre meal.
This years’ original production is A Christmas Carol, a story that my children know well from modern interpretations of the classic Dickens’ tale of mean old Scrooge an how he comes to realise the error of his ways. This years production is written by the Olivier Award-winning Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and whilst there are many original twist and turns along the way, the story does not loose any of its original essence of generosity, hope and love triumphing over personal greed.
Perhaps uniquely, the Rose’s original production is one where Scrooge is in fact a woman, played beautifully and sympathetically by Penny Layden. As scrooge meets each of her Christmas Spirits, past, present and future, the audience are first walked through the experiences of young Ebbie Scrooge and choices she made which led to her current standing as the mean spirited owner of a Ragged School where the children were facing another Christmas without warmth or cheer. The second spirit shows her current self in true light, and the future spirit shows her the misery to come on her current path. Whilst the story of Scrooge can be dark and upsetting for children, this production focusses on the positivity and strength of the children and people around her. The more frightening moments are performed with grace and none of the younger audience members seemed in anyway alarmed or worried.
The artistic set portrays an elegant interpretation of Dickensian times, and with the addition of the swing, amazes and excites the younger audience. The costumes typify dress in the victorian era, with the addition of three very creative Spirit costumes.
There are some wonderful vocal performances from both the adults and youth theatre cast.
The production ends with a wonderful music number ‘Magic’, which certainly rids the audience of any last feelings of bah-humbug and sets the scene for a very Merry Christmas.
2 December 2022 to 2 January 2023
Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames
Lucy and two of her daughters are grateful to have received complementary tickets to see a Christmas Carol, but their opinions are their own.