The Groundlings bring Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol back to Portsmouth

Tim Skelton as Ebenezer Scrooge at The Groundlings Theatre.Tim Skelton as Ebenezer Scrooge at The Groundlings Theatre.
Tim Skelton as Ebenezer Scrooge at The Groundlings Theatre.
With its obviously festive links and the author’s ties to Portsmouth, it’s perhaps that A Christmas Carol isn't performed more in the city.

And it nearly wasn’t this year. The Groundlings Theatre had originally planned to stage Dick Whittington this December. But when the bigger Kings Theatre changed its plans from Peter Pan to also put on Dick, the smaller theatre decided they had no choice but to find something new.

Amy Harrison, the show’s co-director and producer says: ‘It was a pretty quick decision, because we have links with Charles Dickens here and A Christmas Carol is such a well-known and loved story, we thought that would be the perfect alternative.’

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This new adaptation of the Victorian classic is a straightforward play.

‘It's quite a nice alternative, if you want to see something rather than a panto, or a panto AND this. It's something which still has that Christmas-y spirit to it.

‘And because we've got quite a flexible theatre space, we've been working out how to make it interesting for our audience so we're making it semi-immersive – so it's an experience as soon as they walk through the door, they're into the world of it.’

Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Tim Skelton – no stranger to the Groundlings stage, having performed in My Fair Lady, Frankenstein, An Ideal Husband, and The Railway Children.

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Daniel McCrohon is the ghost of Jacob Marley, and Bob Cratchit and his wife are played by Charlie Tantam and Rachel Fenwick.

Amy admits the world of Zoom rehearsals and socially-distanced set-building has been ‘nerve-racking’ at times.

‘It was a case of, we can't get everyone into the theatre, so let's get them online instead, so we aren't missing out on time.

‘The process had its highs and lows.

‘We've been faced with one problem after another, and then with the second lockdown and then restrictions changing, it's certainly kept us on our toes. And whatever the next problem we've had to face is, we're: “Right, how do we tackle this in a way that's safe for our cast members and our audience?”

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‘We're just very happy that we're able to get something out to the public and to get the theatre on its feet.

‘It maybe in a slightly different way to what we're used to, but as long as we've managed to get some theatre out there, that was our main goal, we're thrilled we're able to do that.

‘It's been scary, but being able to rise to it has been very fulfilling.’


Groundlings Theatre, Portsea

December 11-30

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