A Christmas Carol

SHORT STORY: The eternal battle between sisters

Here we have not only the Spirits of Christmas past, present and yet to come but of writer Charles Dickens himself.

In other words this is not quite the anarchic enterprise usually expected of Nuffield director Patrick Sandford's Christmas show.

Oh yes, it has its frivolities. 'You have never seen the likes of me before,' says a ghost in red wig and yellow leggings with a multi-coloured mass of baubles in between.

And the show has its opportunity for audience participation, with children going up to sing carols as part of an on-stage Christmas party.

But the story is the thing, and it is well-served throughout in a radically swift re-telling.

Mark Hadfield displays an effectively abrupt nastiness as Ebenezer Scrooge, all chiselled vowels and snapped exclamations of 'Humbug!'

There is also some rather lovely singing, and the Christmas scene with the Cratchit family is beautifully blocked.

Elsewhere Sandford's direction combines well with Fabrice Serafino's designs and Matt Deveraux's musical direction to suggest that Scrooge's world is seriously out of kilter and out of harmony.

The darkness of the story is not over-done but this might be a Christmas show better-suited to slightly older children.

Until January 8.