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By Ian Dipple 05/01 Updated: 13/01 10:21

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A Christmas Carol - As told by Jacob Marley (Deceased)

Artrix Bromsgrove

Thursday, December 29

YOU would never have imagined one man with nothing but a whitened face, a set of chains and a chair could make for such riveting entertainment. But for well over an hour James Hyland had the audience gripped with this unique telling of Dicken’s classic morality tale.

Even though the words and the plot twists were familiar, Hyland’s one-man show allowed people to revisit this Christmas favourite with fresh eyes. Characters were brought vividly to life through his dramatic actions and facial expressions, evoking all the emotion film makers spend months and millions of pounds to recreate.

With just a change of tone in his voice or a swish of his hand Hyland moved nimbly from Marley to Scrooge to the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and all other characters in-between.

What worked so beautifully was the use of Marley as the storyteller for the evening. With his pale face, red eyes, ragged clothes and chains it is a powerful visual reminder throughout the show that here in front of you is a man who did not get a chance at salvation as you witness Scrooge’s own journey on the road to redemption.

Having freed himself from his chains to tell the story, the show ends with Marley clamping them back on and being dragged into the spirit world to suffer his torment and the juxtaposition between the fate of the two characters leads you to question your own life and the world around you as you leave the theatre - just as Dickens intended all those years ago. A powerful, thought provoking, and in many ways, definitive telling of A Christmas Carol.

Ian Dipple

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