Theatre review by Francesca Evans
THE Marine Players delighted audiences last week as they brought the Charles Dickens classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ to the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis.
The charming show saw a mixture of experienced performers and young talent take to the stage to bring the favourite Christmas story to life, dramatised by Michael Snelgrove and directed by Cherine Hill.
Audiences were taken back to 1800s London – with simple staging, a thick fog and a cold breeze emanating from the stage – to learn the true meaning of Christmas. Along with joyous songs and dance, plus a touch of humour, this was a warming festive production that left audience members with a smile on their faces.
Fred Humphrey took the lead role of Ebenezer Scrooge, the cold-hearted miser who retorted to Christmas traditions with ‘Bah! Humbug!’.
The classic tale sees Scrooge warned by the ghost of his former business parter, Jacob Marley (John Gooden), to change his mean-spirited ways.
On Christmas Eve he is then visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Anne King), Present (Pete Ward) and Christmas Yet to Come (Tracey Blech), showing him his mistakes and the effect of his selfishness on others, and finally teaching him the real meaning of Christmas.
Fred gave an excellent performance as Scrooge. On stage for almost the entire production, he showed real emotion and won over the audience as he slowly woke up to the error of his ways.
Another stand-out performance came from Anne King. A favourite of the local stage, I always delight when I see Anne’s name in a programme as I know hers will be a performance to look out for, and this was no exception.
As well as taking on the rather sombre role of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Anne was back to her comical best in the chorus number ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ with her ‘drunken’ antics winning the biggest laugh of the night from the audience.
Led by David Ruffle in the role of Fred, Scrooge’s endearing and ever-positive nephew, the song was one of the overall highlights of the show, lifting the festive atmosphere in the Marine – you couldn’t help but join in!
Experienced performer Brian Rattenbury also pleased audiences with his musical numbers as Scrooge’s kind-hearted former boss, Mr Fizziwig, alongside brother Steve Rattenbury as his assistant Dick Willikins.
Young members of the cast also joined in many of the festive musical numbers, with Millie Ashford as Tiny Tim standing out with her solo ‘Silent Night’.
The Marine Players – formerly Lyme Regis Dramatic Society – can add ‘A Christmas Carol’ to its growing repertoire of successful and well-received productions, with any funds raised from the show to be put back into the Marine Theatre.
Their next show will be held in April 2019 and details will be announced soon.
CAST (in order or appearance): Fred Humphrey (Ebenezer Scrooge), Rob Smith (Bob Cratchit), David Ruffle (Fred), Karen Hull and Barbara Green (Charitable Ladies), Alex Robinson (Carol Singer), John Gooden (Marley’s Ghost), Anne King (Ghost of Christmas Past), Aeron Tollett (Child Scrooge), Fritha Heard (Fanny), Pete Ward (School Master), Brian Rattenbury (Mr Fezziwig), Steve Rattenbury (Dick Willikins), Hazel Tingley (Mrs Fizziwig), Carys Lowe, Sue Wiscombe & The Company (Guests), Adrian Hillier (Fiddler), Aaron Brock (Young Scrooge), Nicole Parkinson-Ward (Nicole), Anouska Galvin Mayes, Alex Robinson and Ariana Finn (Belle’s Children), John Murphy (Belle’s Husband), Pete Ward (Ghost of Christmas Present), Juliet Henham (Mrs Cratchit), Anouska Galvin Mayes (Lily Cratchit), David Robinson (Peter Cratchit), Ariana Finn (Nelly Cratchit), Claudia Marshall (Martha Cratchit), Lucy Smith (Belinda Cratchit), Millie Ashford (Tiny Tim), Margaret Morgan (Fred’s Wife), Fritha Heard (Ignorance), Alex Robinson (Want), John Gooden and Steve Rattenbury (Businessmen), Tracey Blech (Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come), Linda Crawford (Charwoman), Adrian Hillier (Joe), Anne King (Laundress), Aaron Brock (Undertaker), Brian Rattenbury (Night Watchman), Alex Robinson (Boy), Brian Rattenbury (Poulterer), The Company (townspeople, relatives, carol singers).
PRODUCTION TEAM: Cherine Hill (Director), Linda Crawford (Assistant Director), Jo Smith Oliver (Stage Management), Tony Hill and Richard Stirk (Lighting and Sound), Rose May, May Robinson and Lorraine Knowles (Wardrobe), Beverley Rattenbury and Jane Tappin (Props), John Griswold (Musical Director), Cherine Hill, John Gooden, Fred Humphrey and team (Set Design and Construction), David Ruffle (Publicity), John Gooden and David Ruffle (Poster and Programme Design), Jenny Humphrey (Original Artwork), Marine Theatre staff (Front of House), Lyme Regis TIC (Box Office).