By Blog Up North’s Gemma Whelan, a freelance drama practitioner.
The Leeds Playhouse Pop-Up theatre is delightfully intimate and a perfect performance space for this beloved classic. Our adventure begins as we locate this tucked away gem, when we discovered the entrance we were immediately transported on to a Dickensian street. The smell of mulled wine filled the air, and the audience hustled and bustled on the cobbled street or found a quaint little corner to sit in. On entering the theatre itself I was enchanted; The set design, lighting and costume were magical. As I sat in expectation for the performance to begin I realised I was a little nervous; like many of us, this story holds a special place in my heart and I am protective of it. However, the story was placed in very safe hands. Deborah McAndrewâ€™s northern adaptation did us proud.
The stage opens in song as our vibrant ensemble bring the victorian setting to life. This talentedÂ chorus seamlessly morph from character to character as they weave the tapestry of the story. Throughout this telling there is a dark undertone, the fragility of life is never far away and the impish chorus of spirits are a reminder of the ever present afterlife. However, the excellentÂ performances of Hull truck theatre and Amy Leachâ€™s direction, meant that laughter, joy and hope are also ever present. In one moment we might be in the otherworldly enchantment of the ethereal ghost of Christmas past, in the next the tenderness of the Cratchit home, and in the next being entertained in musical hall style by the fabulous ghost of Christmas present.
The production’sÂ Tiny Tims are played by young local actorsÂ Lipalo MoketeÂ from LeedsÂ andÂ Seb SmallwoodÂ from Harrogate. Cast following an open call-out in September which saw over 50 young people audition for the role, Lipalo and Seb have spent their half terms rehearsing with cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge, played byÂ Robert PickavanceÂ (Europe, Leeds Playhouse).
The full company are made up of the Leeds Playhouse Ensemble with Bob Cratchit being played byÂ Darren KuppanÂ (Morocco inÂ Europe, Leeds Playhouse) and Mrs Cratchit played byÂ Jo MousleyÂ (Katia inÂ Europe, Leeds Playhouse).
Taking us through Scroogeâ€™s dreams are the ghosts ofÂ ChristmasÂ Past and Present, played byÂ Tessa ParrÂ (Adele inÂ Europe, Leeds Playhouse) andÂ Elexi WalkerÂ (Airplays, Leeds Playhouse and BBC Radio Leeds) respectively.Joining them areÂ Joe AlessiÂ (Fret inÂ Europe, Leeds Playhouse) who plays the infamous tormented ghost Marley;Â Susan TwistÂ (Airplays, Leeds Playhouse and BBC Radio Leeds) as Mrs Fezziwig; andÂ Dan ParrÂ (Berlin inÂ Europe, Leeds Playhouse) as Fred.
AÂ ChristmasÂ CarolÂ is adapted by award-winning, West Yorkshire born playwrightÂ Deborah McAndrew, directed by Leeds Playhouseâ€™s Associate DirectorÂ Amy LeachÂ (Road,Â Romeo & Juliet,Â Kes,Â The Night BeforeÂ Christmas, Leeds Playhouse) and designed by award-winningÂ Hayley GrindleÂ (Road,Â Romeo & Juliet,Â Leeds Playhouse).
â€‹Â AÂ ChristmasÂ CarolÂ is a Leeds Playhouse production in association with Hull Truck Theatre.
AÂ ChristmasÂ Carol,Â Leeds Playhouse Pop-Up theatre
Tue 20 Nov â€“ Sat 19 Jan, Press Night Fri 23 Nov, 7pm
Box office 0113 213 7700. Book onlineÂ leedsplayhouse.org.uk