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A Christmas Carol review – Nicholas Hytner delivers an ode to theatre

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Bridge theatre, London
Simon Russell Beale stars in an economical Dickens adaptation that reminds us of the richness of live theatre

What has made this Victorian tale of child poverty, stalking apparitions and pathological miserliness chime across the ages? GK Chesterton cited the defeat of humbuggery and triumph of happiness. George Orwell wrote of its myth of moral transformation and the “good rich man, handing out guineas”. More recently Jack Thorne spoke of its resonance in our era of austerity.

Nicholas Hytner’s adaptation at the Bridge theatre certainly has an economy of scale. A powerhouse three-strong cast, Simon Russell Beale, Patsy Ferran and Eben Figueiredo, play every character between them alongside song, dance and nimble, poignant puppetry. But the show seems less concerned with austerity than reminding us of the richness of live theatre and offering an imaginative escape from our pandemic-scarred realities.

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