A Christmas Carol

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SHORT STORY FOR THE WEEKEND: Let’s Do It by David Dunford

Few venues can claim to be more apt for a staging of Dickens' perennial Christmas classic than the Old Benny.

Groundlings Theatre Company's new home in Portsea is purported to have been the site where Elizabeth Dickens went into labour with her famous son, and the company provides a festive celebration, complete with two course Christmas dinner by candlelight, with a cast combining professional actors and young performers from Groundlings' own theatre school.

Quite what the man himself would make of director Richard Stride's take on his tale is uncertain, as the familiar story is punctuated with modern musical numbers. While many of these are thematically appropriate, occasionally they clash with the traditional costumes, an example being a rendition of 9 to 5 as an expression of Bob Cratchitt's workaday existence.

This device, and some pedestrian staging, are compensated for by the energetic cast who play with winning enthusiasm, and there are some engaging individual performances from the young actors, in particular Emma Uden as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Eddie Manning's Narrator.

The decision to cast a young child (Elysia Sheridan) as the Ghost of Christmas Future, singing haunting nursery rhymes, is satisfyingly eerie.

Until January 2.