A retelling of a classic Christmas tale with a Scottish twist. Tony Cownie has adapted Dickens’ famous redemption story into a pantomime-style production set on the streets of Edinburgh. The adaptation is cleverly tailored to an Edinburgh audience looking for some family-friendly, festive entertainment. The cast and crew deliver exactly that, but perhaps sacrifice the darkness and intrigue of the original Christmas Carol.
Appealing to kids and adults alike, the script is sprinkled with silly one-liners and physical comedy, most of which hit the mark for this audience. The well-loved story of Greyfriars’s Bobby is interwoven with A Christmas Carol, making references to the streets of Edinburgh’s old town, the royal mile and the kirkyard. For the most part, it works splendidly, but it does mean stripping back some of the detail of the original play. Skipping over character development and time given to building tension, some of the story is rushed in order to make way for Edinburgh based sub-plots and inside jokes.
Tiny Tim and Greyfriars’s bobby are creatively represented using puppets. The characters are adored by both the audience and the cast, who continue to treat the puppets as fellow cast members until the very final curtain. The puppetry itself is masterful. They move gracefully and are believably integrated into the action, adding to the pantomime style. Given that it is Christmas, the pantomime tone should feel appropriate, but somehow it clashes with the darkness of A Christmas Carol. Each moment jumps between moods a little too quickly to ever build upon one particular emotion. That being said, by the end there was a distinct buzz of Christmas joy in the air as the story was merrily resolved and the cast and audience came together in song.
Crawford Logan, as Ebenezer Scrooge, is a strong leading man. His joy-hating, grumpy self is just as entertaining as his cheerful, enlightened transformation. The rest of the cast multirole impressively. The talent of the actors is evident in their ability to switch from beautiful wife, to exasperated maid, to eccentric campaigner.
An Edinburgh Christmas Carol is highly recommended for families or anyone looking for some festive fun! If you’re a fan of the original Dickens story, possibly seek a more classic telling, but this otherwise remains a heart-warming production.