A Christmas Carol at Derby Theatre Review

29 November 2019 to 4 January 2020

Reviewed by Lindsay Burton

Neil Duffield’s stunning adaptation of Charles Dickens’ treasured novel returns to the Derby Theatre stage for Christmas 2019.

With my 10-year-old son in tow, we made our way to Derby Theatre to see A Christmas Carol. This is one of our all-time favourite Christmas stories and we had been looking forward to it for some time as my son was desperate to see how O’Shea was going to create the true essence of what it means to us! And he did just that!

On Christmas Eve, the cruel humbug Ebenezer Scrooge (Gareth Williams) is visited by the ghost of his old business partner Jacob Marley (James McLean) to warn him to change his miserly ways. After midnight, three spirits guide Scrooge to journey through his Christmas past, present and future, to reveal the errors of his cold heart. Along the way he encounters the mistletoe and merriment of Mr Fezziwig’s (James McLean) dancing party, Tiny Tim’s (William Brown) generous Christmas spirit and the true consequences of his meanness and misery.

Made in Derby and performed by a talented ensemble cast, this much-loved festive story warmed my heart from the very second it started. With the great big clock taking centre stage, the scene is set before the cast took to the stage. A massive shout out to all the cast members, their stage presence carried through the audience and we were joining in with favourite carols such as Good King Wenceslas, Deck the Halls and Ding Dong Merrily on High. The clothing and character changing were flawless and the children in the cast were of outstanding talent. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance Aimee Kwan (Belle/Beth) whose voice was beautifully suited to her roles.

Charles Dickens’s idea for A Christmas Carol originated in the north of England when he travelled to speak at the Manchester Athenaeum, a sort of philanthropic organization for the working poor – a population that was largely uneducated, powerless, exploited by factory owners, and ignored by everyone else. He was part of an event in October 1843 that was intended to raise money for the Athenaeum; he shared the stage with the prominent politicians Richard Cobden and Benjamin Disraeli. Dickens was already a popular and successful novelist, a self-made man with a social conscience. His time in Manchester convinced him that he needed to confront the problems of Want and Ignorance, which he personified in his Christmas tale as two horrifying children. These were the threats facing England, and they were being bred in the slums of the country’s newly industrialized cities. Dickens could fight them, he decided. Dickens continued writing what he called his Christmas Books for several years afterward. They were popular in their time, but none of the others have gone into endless rotation on television or on the stage. Only A Christmas Carol became a modern fairy tale, one much loved by many generations since.

Derby Theatre’s hospitality was outstanding, and all patrons enjoyed a yummy mince pie on arrival. Directions to the venue are also clearly marked once you reach the town centre and Intu basement car provides ample car parking spaces in close proximity to the venue and at very affordable prices too!

With a running time of 120 minutes (including the 20min interval) this family show is an ideal Christmas outing! 

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £12.50 (booking fees may apply).

A Christmas Carol is at Derby Theatre from 29 November 2019 to 4 January 2020, for more information or book tickets visit or call the box office on 01332 593939.

Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF | 01332 593939

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