WORLD PREMIERE - HAYSTACK THEATRE, SHREWSBURY - NOVEMBER 25th 2017
ASSEMBLY FESTIVAL, EDINBURGH FRINGE - AUGUST 2018
UK TOURS 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
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| Theatre Tours International
in association with Maverick Theatre Company presents
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Performed by Guy Masterson
Adapted & Directed by Nick Hennegan
From the original performance text by Charles Dickens
Original Music by Robb Williams
DICKENS' MYSTICAL CHRISTMAS FABLE BROUGHT TO LIFE - THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS TREAT!
Olivier Award winner, Guy Masterson, veteran of many smash hit solo works such as Under Milk Wood, Animal Farm and Shylock, now presents Dickens' classic festive fable. Famed for bringing multiple characters to vivid life, Masterson gives us Scrooge, Marley, the Fezziwigs, the Cratchits, Tiny Tim et al in a riveting, performance that will dazzle, enchant, and linger long in the memory. Guaranteed to get you into the Christmas Spirit - in many more ways than one!
"Masterson's production is an understated warning and a celebration of the hope for human kind. A Christmas Carol for our time." (Public Review - 27/11/17))
"Just when you thought you'd seen enough Christmas Carols to guide you to your grave, along comes one of the best yet!" (BBC Radio 01/12/17)
"Quite simply spellbinding!" (ReviewSphere - 06/08/18)
BRISTOL POST (22/12/22)
Bath Theatre Royal -
A THEATRICAL TOUR DE FORCE
Guy Masterson takes audiences at the Ustinov Studio back to the golden age of storytelling with his solo version of probably the most famous of all Christmas stories, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
It was the author himself who, in 1853, decided that his short story about the redemption of the miserly businessman, Ebeneezer Scrooge, after the visit of four ghostly figures, would make a good basis for his first public reading.
The choice proved to be a fine one, and Dickens went on to repeat the performance more than 100 times. The number of times that Nick Hennegan's adaptation of the story has been performed by Guy Masterson throughout the country, including a memorable season of Ustinov in 2020, since it premiered thee years earlier, probably now exceeds the number of times the author presented it. The big difference between the two versions is that whereas Masterson has the help of original music by Robb Williams and modern theatre technology, Dickens, who stood behind a lectern, could only count on his own mesmerising personality and voice.
Dickens, unlike Masterson, did not have to compete with the many film versions that have been made, full of cinematic wizardry, and if you include the musical version, a cast of hundreds. Placed between these two extremes, where does Guy Masterson's interpretation fit in? The answer is far nearer a Dickens reading than a big-screen presentation.
There is no lectern on stage, just a plain wooden chair, and a hook stage left where a coat can be placed, if necessary. No video screen adorns the rear and, apart from the occasional echo effect, the voice projection is unadorned.
Lighting and sound effects are used to excellent effect, although more effective because they are sparingly used.
You can debate, as is always the case, whether the adapter/director, Nick Hennegan has placed the greatest emphasis in the right place, and whether or not, he has allowed the actor too much, or too little room to create his own portrait of Scrooge. All of which leaves the major burden of success or failure of this presentation firmly in the hands of the actor, Guy Masterson. Dressed sometimes in a shabby raincoat, a loose shirt, baggy trousers and boots, Guy backs himself to place the character firmly in Victorian London without the help of period costume, and succeeds fully in the game.
While using the full range of his voice, he does not indulge in violent changes of tone to paint portraits of the numerous characters who inhabit Scrooge's mind during this Christmas period.
When it comes to an outpouring of passion, as Scrooge is enveloped in remorse, there is no holding back. This is acting in the grand manner, bearing the very soul of the man who represents the worst and very best of the meaning of Christmas.
Never missing a beat, or stumbling over a word, this is a theatrical tour de force. (Gerry Parker)
BATH ECHO & WESTERN DAILY PRESS (22/12/22)
Bath Theatre Royal - Ustinov Studio
GHOSTLY CLASSIC GIVEN NEW LIFE! It's Christmas week and what could be more festive than alive, but a very different performance of Dickens' famous and most Christmassy of classics, A Christmas Carol, but this one man adaptation is like no other.
Forget the Muppets, forget all the corny, over sentimentalised movies, this is Dickens in the flesh, the real stuff, the words off the page.
Olivier and multi award-winning, Guy Masterson plays the characters himself in this most famous of stories, and he is unbelievably energetic and convincing in each role. At times, you forget, you're in a theatre, so real and alive are the characters and the story is given a whole new energy in this most intimate performance.
On the opening night on Tuesday, the sell-out audience was completely captivated and enchanted as Masterson delivered each character with booming voice and unbelievable movement: He dances, mimes, mimics, prances around with such vitality, creating a wonderful atmosphere of Ustinov, the perfect setting for the story.
The performance brings Dickens' words to life in a whole new way. It is stripped down, no-nonsense storytelling with unbelievable energy and commitment from this talented performer. The only prop on stage at the wonderfully intimate Ustinov is a raincoat hanging on a hook. Masterson manages to seamlessly, change, voice, accent and stature to each of the main characters, narrator, Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim et al, and the audience is transported back to the real meaning of Christmas and of Dickens' original words on the page.
It is storytelling in the grand oral tradition, but brought to life with such physicality and energy. By Masterson, it really brings the story back to its original strength, Dickens' masterful description and humour is highlighted to the delight of the audience.
It is an exhausting, but exciting performance by Masterson in this adaptation by Nick, Hennegan, and the musical score by Rob Williams adds tension and atmosphere at the Ustinov, it is very ghostly, dark and scary at times.
It is a perfect way to spend a Christmas night in Bath in this production of by Maverick Theatre, which brings us most Christmassy of Christmas tales to life in the atmospheric setting of the Ustinov Studio.
Dickens' Christmas message of generosity to fellow man was never so vivid, and given a whole new meaning for the times we live in. (Nancy Connolly)
@FEMMELOVES - TWITTER (14/12/22)
Marketplace Theatre, Armagh
THE MOST WONDERFUL PRODUCTION OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL I'VE EVER SEEN!" I've just come back from a one man production of A Chrismas Carol at Marketplace Theatre in Armagh, starring Guy Masterson... I've loved this book since I was a teenager and I've seen endless productions of it. This was the best, and it's not even close. Go see it if you can.
Alright, so the long version:
The show was sold out. It was in a smaller hall, tiered seating, unreserved. The audience was mostly adults, but there were a few kids in the front row, age between seven and twelve or so. The stage was simple. A chair and a coat on a hook.
The show was billed as a one man thing. It was booked as a surprise for me by my wonderful mother in law, who knows that I have loved this book since childhood, and that I read it every year. She took a risk too. I ALWAYS have something to moan about in productions of ACC. Even my favourite production, with Patrick Stewart, that everybody else thinks is too worthy and stuffy, was IMHO a bit over schmaltzy with the Cratchits and Tiny Tim. Come on. We all know Dickens was a LITTLE BIT laughing behind his hand at "God bless us every one."
I went to this production with an open mind. The only other "one man" production I've ever seen was back in the 90s, and it was Hamlet. Truly! It was like the curate's egg, good in parts, but mostly a massive exercise in "Aren't I so good at acting, daaahling. Loook!" I had myself steeled against this possibility...
My frostiness did not survive the first two minutes. By the time Guy Masterson had got to the end of his opening lines ("dead as a doornail") the warmth of his invitation to his audience had me absolutly WRAPT. At the same time as being immediately brought into his confidence and having my disbelief miraculously and completely suspended by some sort of understated, theatrical magic with a coat and good lighting, I realised something intellectually about the text. This was Dickens if he wasn't paid by the word. Sparse, muscular prose, with just the right amount of water from The Ghost of Christmas Present's lamp scattered on it to make it into something close to poetry. They only cut the overkill. There was no overkill in this at all.
So many moments of what really were magic that it is hard to pick them: The Fezziwigs' ball - Logically, there was only one man and a coat on the stage. A man who I met after, who was very charming and kind and unassuming, but who definitely was not a whole riotous company. But somehow, on stage, for those moments, he and his coat utterly filled the stage. There was only him, but he was all the characters... All at once.... He was an entire, happy ball. And at the Cratchit's home, he was all the parents and all the children, and best of all... he was even the Christmas goose and the pudding! I swear, I could almost smell them. He was everybody's hungry and then satisfied delight. Really extraordinary. Extraordinary acting.
I almost always find it a bit grating when male actors "do" female voices. It's worst in audio books. They adopt the stupidest, highest, most vacuous mockery of a female voice, every single time. It grates on me. But Guy Masterson managed to act out a whole conversation between two women, and include lots of women, without once grating on me.
The more I look back at the thing, the less clear it is to me how he managed the feat. There was some lighting effects, and some audio effects. But all so understated. I heard the miners singing in the valleys, and the Salvation Army Band going up my grandmother's street.
I really wanted to buy the "A Child's Christmas in Wales" CD he had for sale, as that's another one I've loved since childhood. I'll have to see if there's anywhere i can buy it online. If so, nobody expect anything else for Christmas. Anyway, I've had a bloody lovely evening.
I'll leave you with an analogy: Do you know when you have REALLY good sex. I mean, the mind blowing, skin melting, life changing kind... Then afterwards, you lie there and look at the person, and think, "Li'l old you? Really?" Like they seem somehow small compared to the things they've just made you feel? Like you expect them to have some sort of superhuman, luminous quality, not usually possessed by other, lesser mortals?
Well I watched this thing. I've no idea how long it went on. Five minutes? I was utterly wrapt the whole time. I cried my eyes out. I was amazed to see somebody with enough confidence to do as Dickens does, and portray the truth of family life - hilarious, riotous, sad, and sometimes just a little bit silly and even twee. I marveled at it. And then I met your man after. This man who had just reread a book to me that I've loved since childhood, and seen what I see in it, but revealed it to me too. A man who was a whole theatrical company. And he was small, and kind, and sweet. I thought, "Li'l old you?
Anyway, I liked the production. It's been running/touring for several years so if you can see it, you absolutely should. Go see it. Rob somebody if you have to. If the opportunity arises, I will go see it again. It is the most wonderful production of ACC I've ever seen.
Waterside Theatre, Sale
MESMERISING IN HIS DELIVERY, GUY MASTERSON'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL IS ONE OF THE BEST THEATRE ADAPTATIONS TO GRACE THE STAGE! In 1843 there was a novella published. That novella was A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens and would go on to be one of the most consistently read works on the planet. It has never been out of print, it has been translated into every language and countless film and theatre productions have portrayed the tale of Scrooge, his fear, his hope and his redemption with varying success.
The performance starts with the audience being taken back in time by a brief but very effective audio montage; we are no longer in 2022, we are in London on a cold and bleak Christmas Eve. It is cold, it is foggy, Scrooge is a miser resenting more than one coal on a fire for his clerk, Bob Cracchit and with his own ideas on how to “decrease the surplus population” of waifs and strays. The scene is set for us to fly with Scrooge on his journey, a tale we all know but with this telling as fresh as the day it was published.
Our sole guide is Guy Masterson who is mesmerising in his delivery, there is not one utterance that goes unheard, not one action that is missed where the audience are not enthralled under a spell of pure joy. Captivated by a story heard so many times a pin dropping would have been loud enough to have been the clanking of the chains surrounding Marley. A solo performance is hard, it is hard on the actor to hit the right note with the audience, to build the suspense and to convey the atmosphere and nuances of each character but in this performance that is exactly what happens; it is simply a tour de force of storytelling. Characters are conveyed with not only voice changes but also in mannerisms, descriptions are lucious and vivid and the attention to the text is detailed.
Writer and director Nick Hennegan has worked from an early script by Dickens himself for his reading tours for this live performance and it shows. More than anything it feels not like an adaptation, not a glossy rewrite but unmistakably Dickensian, the words are not merely written and spoken, they are painted on a page and recounted with passion.
This performance has been met with critical acclaim and rightly so. It is simply the best theatre adaptation I have witnessed; whether that is because of the sheer power of the delivery by Guy Masterson, the “stripped back” nature of the staging or merely the fact that a work first given to the work nearly 200 years ago is as relevant today as ever I don’t know. What I do know is that it is not so much a performance as an experience. In the theatre you could feel the audience living every word and perhaps that is the measure of the work and the performance that touches all. After watching this powerful adaptation you may just, in the words of Scrooge himself, “honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year”.
Waterside Theatre, Sale
Everyone loves a ghost story at Christmas, and for my money, there’s no better ghost story than A Christmas Carol. On Friday, we went along to Waterside Arts in Sale, Greater Manchester to spend an evening watching A Christmas Carol, performed by Guy Masterson.
A Christmas Carol has been made into many films. It’s such a part of Christmas, I can’t imagine a December without calling an especially grumpy relative Scrooge. It’s been made and performed a thousand times over, but this one man show, this monologue performance by Guy Masterson was a masterpiece in storytelling.
Like all Dickens’ stories, there is a cast of many, all performed by Guy Masterson. Each one with a voice or mannerism of their own. Each character you can imagine perfectly, all due to a flick of some hair or the imaginary swish of some petticoats
The stage is sparsely set with a chair and a coat on a hook. No other props are used, all are imagined by actor, Guy Masterson. Every sip from a cup, or closing of a door, you can see in your minds eye. You don’t need anything more, because Guy performs with such intensity, you are fully in the moment. You could hear a pin drop throughout. He jumps, runs, twirls and dances across the stage with a kind of energy I’ve long since been able to muster.
The show is 80 minutes long with an interval. It’s a masterclass in memory and Guy never stumbles. There’s the occasional and not at all hammy twinkly knowing eye to the audience, but the whole 80 minutes are an intense retelling of this classic Christmas tale. The ghosts, and the ghostly descriptions are vivid enough to cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end. Tiny Tim is the sickly hero, played so beautifully you can imagine his pale face at the hearthside.
Each character is perfectly drawn by Guy. Everything is so minimal and sparce that the intensity of the performance really sings loudest. I felt like I’d not drawn breath for the whole 80 minutes.
It was a wonderful way to revisit one of my favourite Christmas tales. It was intense and left you with much to think about. It’s a reminder, as if anyone needed one, that life can be peppered with regrets, and it’s never too late to change your path and do better.
Alas, the show was at Waterside Arts for one night only, but Guy is on tour at various thetres throughout the UK in December. It’s not a colourful, jolly festive feast, but exactly the right kind of ghost story for this time of year. It’s a real treat for Dickens fans. I loved it, and it’ll stay with me for a while.
BATH ECHO (05/01/20)
Bath Theatre Royal Ustinov Studio
Adapted with huge care and attention by Nick Hennegan, Masterson brings to life a myriad of characters and follows the gruelling nightmares of Scrooge as he is visited by the Ghost of Marley, Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Future.
The pace is good, the open stage with single chair and coat is enough to evoke each moment of Scrooge’s journey coupled with atmospheric lighting.
The original music by Robb Williams supports the text well and director Nick Hennegan has ensured the script keeps all on task; from the general observers to those revising for upcoming GCSEs.
This is a strong and unsurprisingly good production, given the many awards and plaudits that Masterson has collected over the years.Whilst we may be at the end of the festive season, there is always time to consider this excellent story.The happy young man who turns to wealth and work forsaking those who love him or care for him.
His miserly behaviour is legendary but the reality is that even now it is easy to see how tempting it is to overlook the essentials in life; those of family, friends and personal happiness.
Whilst Scrooge is as “solitary as an oyster” this production allowed us to uncover the pearl at his core alongside the sheer poetry and epic imagery of the original novel. (Petra Schofield)
REVIEWS FROM EDINBURGH 2018
ASSEMBLY FESTIVAL - EDINBURGH 2018
QUITE SIMPLY SPELLBINDING! Before a wooden chair and a rumpled raincoat suspended from the ceiling on a hook, an angelic rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem gives way to a harsh soundscape which transports the action from the workhouses and slavery of Victorian England to the food banks and zero-hour contracts of Brexit Britain: a cacophony of car horns, jarring synthesisers and Neil Armstrong's iconic quote "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
The latter of which begs the question: how far have living standards leaped? Same shit different day would appear to be the answer, given that the gap between rich and poor has never been wider, the haves have even more and the have-nots are demonised as 'shirkers not workers'. Or in the case of immigrants (and by association refugees and asylum seekers), confronted with threatening billboard vans which ordered 'Go home or face arrest.'... I digress.
Guy Masterson, under the deft direction of Nick Hennegan who has adapted Dickens' festive tale of redemption into a taut 75 minutes, is quite simply spellbinding. Dressed in casual attire, he begins his rapid but never rushed narration in his natural voice and with his body in a state of balance, but as soon as he speaks of the "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner" his expansive frame clenches into a tight fist. A fitting metaphor for a miser described as "No wind that blew was bitterer than he".
Relying entirely on Masterson's undoubted talent as a storyteller he never imposes himself on the material, but like a fine musician filters Dickens' dense and descriptive passages through his well-tuned vocal and physical instruments Hennegan draws upon the simplest of theatrical techniques to powerful effect.
For example, Marley's nocturnal visitation is characterised by a stark footlight which throws an imposing shadow on the back wall which combined with a faint reverbation and an ominous rumbling by composer Robb Williams recreates what the second spirit calls "A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of the earth". The sure destination of Scrooge should he refuse to mend his ways.
But, as we know, an 'alteration' takes place and the man who was once described as "hard and sharp as flint" becomes "as giddy as a drunken man". As was the 'small but perfectly formed audience' who marvelled at Masterson's spellbinding performance as they reengaged with Dickens' wonderful and timeless tale of redemption. (Peter Callahan)
MUST SEE SHOW! FRINGEREVIEW.COM (16/08/18)
ASSEMBLY FESTIVAL - EDINBURGH 2018
GENUINE AND ASTONISHINGLY SUCCESSFUL! Edinburgh Legend/stalwart Guy Masterson gives a tour de force of one man show virtuosity in this faithful yet innovative, unseasonal yet oddly appropriate much loved Christmas classic.
Oh not A Christmas Carol AGAIN! It's been filmed innumerable times for TV and cinema, muppeted, adapted as a musical, updated, re-interpreted, turned into Panto, pastiched, lampooned and, perhaps most damning of all, put in the GCSE curriculum. Is there any short novella that has been more culturally exploited in history? Almost certainly not.
A dangerous decision then, for Olivier Award-winner Guy Masterson to select what many would see as a hackneyed and overworked piece and apply to it his undoubtedly impressive talents, both as writer and performer. It's a cash cow that has been ridden by many other eminent performers after all; Simon Callow and Patrick Stewart in recent years spring to mind, and Gary Sefton's magnificent adaptation in 2016.
What does Masterson bring to the already groaning A Christmas Carol table that is new? Well for a start, it's the Summer. "Australians do it!" is the publicity gag, but actually, it really isn't a problem. Quite the reverse. It may be Summer, but this is Edinburgh, so the skies are leaden and grey as any midwinter day elsewhere. Less flippantly, there is something immediately refreshing about looking at a Christmas classic from the fresh perspective of the Summertime; it's a piece that is infused with cold, with the physical privations of ice and snow and dark, and the enjoyment of merriment and togetherness that can keep the real and metaphorical dark at bay. Being reminded of the dark days, and how to be a better person, and keep a better Christmas, seems more instructive, more actually useful, with a bit of distance in the year. Even Scrooge gets some advance warning, after all.
The second innovation is much more important. This is, truly, a one-person show. It has elements of narration and storytelling, yes, (and Masterson's Burtonesque baritone does this beautifully), but unlike any other solo version I have seen, it is a genuine and astonishingly successful attempt by one person to people the stage with all of Dickens characters. Masterson uses the full panoply of voice, characterisation, physicality, mime, dance, sound effect and music to terrific effect, effortlessly slipping between character and place, simultaneously building word pictures of the scenes as he goes. It is only when he pauses briefly for a drink he wishes was beer about forty minutes in that you appreciate the awesome work rate this requires.
It is a mesmerising, breathless construction, and finally answers the question: can a one man show be truly a drama? Turns out, yes it can, providing you have a world class actor, a tight and atmospheric script, and minimal but clever and evocative sound design. These three things have to work doubly hard when you consider the set is a chair, a hook for a coat, and a coat. That is it; but you will have been as present at Mr Fezziwig's revels as you have ever been; as enchanted and frightened by the ghosts as you were at the age of ten, and you wilL let slip involuntary tears of pity for a Tiny Tim who is only seen in the place Masterson makes for him in your mind's eye.
The final refreshment of this well trodden path is the adaptation. It is muscular, spare, but full of the richness and wit of the original. It seems remarkably faithful to the source, and there is no concession to modernity, which is a blessing to all true fans of Dickens and his wit. Making Dickens' jokes lift off the page and sing is no simple matter, but this version, in the hands of Masterson, makes you remember anew why A Christmas Carol is such a perennial favourite. Because it is wonderful. It is funny, scary, moving and uplifting, and once the encrustations of a hundred other Christmases and innumerable other versions are knocked off it, the shiny sixpence of brilliance and originality remains undimmed underneath.
I urge you to go and rediscover something you thought you knew all too well, and join the standing ovation at the end. (David Mounfield)
EDFEST MAGAZINE (16/08/18)
ASSEMBLY FESTIVAL - EDINBURGH 2018
CREATIVE, ENERGETIC AND PLENTY OF CHRISTMAS SPIRIT! Summoning the ghost of A Christmas Carol, Guy Masterson's adaptation is a creative show by a talented and energetic performer.
Banish any scepticism or bah humbugs about seeing a Christmas show in August because this will have you feeling more festive than a John Lewis Christmas advert in no time.
The show is performed through spoken work, word from word from the book, but with a genuinely funny and charismatic delivery. Masterson jumps from character to character, going from old man to echoing ghost to the squeaky-voiced tiny Tim with ease, aided by effectively utilised lighting and sound effects and the flow was never disrupted or disjointed. More scaled back than big budget, this minimalist performance merges together into a ballet of festivity. Masterson performs each part well, taking advantage of the whole space in a dynamic display of skill.
Go see this play if you're a fan of Dickens, A Christmas Carol or just want to see what can be achieved with a minimal set, some imagination, and plenty of Christmas spirt. (Johnny Rhodes)
THE STAGE (11/08/18)
ASSEMBLY FESTIVAL - EDINBURGH 2018
HOLDS THE AUDIENCE RAPT FROM BEGINNING TO END! On a bare stage there is a solitary chair, with a raincoat suspended in mid-air to one side. That's all the setting required for this one-man retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Celebrating his 25th season on the Edinburgh Fringe with no less than four productions, Guy Masterson may not be the first person to bring a one-man Dickens to the stage, but it might be a first for this summer festival.
The familiar characters are all present and correct and Masterson slips easily from one to the other. His Scrooge sounds refreshingly robust not unlike Ray Winstone but this abridged adaptation is a thing of beauty, rich in descriptive detail and emotional impact. The actor brings warmth and genuine Christmas spirit to Fezziwig's party, with even a brief nod to a same-sex relationship. At the other end of the story, the Cratchits' Christmas feast is a bustling affair, busy with chatter, good cheer and of course, Tiny Tim's homespun philosophies.
To lend atmosphere, Masterson wears a radio mic, which lends volume and echo to the Spirits voices but other than some sensitive lighting, there is nowhere for the actor to hide. Masterson defiantly fills the stage however and holds the audience rapt from beginning to end. (Paul Vale)
ASSEMBLY FESTIVAL - EDINBURGH 2018
A TOUR DE FORCE - DICKENS HIMSELF WOULD HAVE LOVED IT! Dickens' timeless tale of redemption at Christmas is once again brought to life in this tour de force of a performance by an accomplished actor.
Using only a single chair and a raincoat, Guy Masterson manages to populate the stage with the familiar cast of characters Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Old Fezziwig and the others with enormous energy and enthusiasm.
This tale has been told so many times and in so many ways in films, animations, musicals and one-man shows, so it is quite extraordinary that it still retains such a powerful hold over us. We all know that Tiny Tim is not going to die, but the very idea of it is still enough to move us to tears.
As the story is so very well-known, the critical focus has to be on how well it is told, and it is told very well, with as much focus on physical agility as verbal dexterity; the dancing at Fezziwig's and the party games at Fred's are hilariously frantic. We might have expected a little more contrast between the voices of Jacob Marley, The Ghost of Christmas Past and The Ghost of Christmas Present, rather than just a mild echo effect to indicate that we were in the world of spirits.
The story moves along with great pace, rushing towards its joyful and convivial conclusion.
A Christmas Carol is a faithful and impressive re-telling of a classic. Dickens himself frequently performed, dramatised versions of his own work. He would have loved this show. (Jon Cross)
BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE (10/08/18)
ASSEMBLY FESTIVAL - EDINBURGH 2018
A MASTERCLASS IN THE ART OF SOLO PERFORMANCE A Christmas Carol may sound like an unlikely selection for the Edinburgh Fringe in August but it proves to be a perfect vehicle for Guy Masterson to deliver a masterclass in the art of solo performance.
For 75 minutes, aided by no more than a chair and coat, the actor magically creates the Victorian classic, using every skill in the acting repertoire. It helps that both the lighting and a soundscape composed by Robb Williams are well judged to enhance the performance.
Nick Hennegan directs and has skilfully adapted the novel, bringing out the beauty of Dickens's language, building the drama to a truly uplifting climax.
Even if you are sick to death of Edinburgh solos, give this one a go as it will refresh your palate for what can, in the hands of mere mortals, all too frequently seem like a jaded and over-used art form. (Philip Fisher)
BEDFORD CLANGER (11/12/18)
A TRULY AMAZING JOB!
A Christmas Carol is a classic tale, and most people you ask can certainly remember some aspects of it, but it would seem that most audiences would say it’s old; read it once or watch one adaptation and that’s all you really need, right? Well I say “wrong”! In the world we live in today, with so many people less fortunate than ourselves right on our doorstep, with some of us afraid to give some of what we have to these people because “What if it’s just a money-making scam?” I think we all need to take a moment in this time of giving and re-evaluate our thinking with this timeless tale and, in my opinion, there is no better way to reacquaint ourselves with the spirit of change and charity at Christmas than with Guy Masterson's one-man retelling of A Christmas Carol that I saw on 8th December at The Place Theatre.
Guy Masterson, the sole performer onstage, did a truly amazing job in bringing this story to life. His storytelling skills were really brilliant and there was never a dull moment. His characterisation was also wonderful and at times I forgot that this was a one-man show! Masterson was able to make each character clearly distinct and still totally believable, which is a great skill. He also remained completely calm whenever there was a technical issue and played it off brilliantly, where others may have panicked.
Nick Hennegan’s adaptation was both humorous and moving and his use of language, combined with Masterson’s amazing acting skills and the well-timed and emotive use of Robb Williams’ original score, made for an immersive and unforgettable show. I certainly look forward to seeing what these three brilliant artists put their creative minds to next! (Kezia-Rose Johnston)
From the World Premiere HAYSTACKS THEATRE - 25/11/17
PUBLIC REVIEWS (27/11/17)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL FOR OUR TIME!
"God Bless us everyone!' cries Tiny Tim. Indeed. God Bless Guy Masterson, whose revival of Dickenss immortal tale, A Christmas Carol, saw its first performance at the Haystack Theatre, Ford last week. Masterson is no stranger to one-man presentations. His skill in defining a multitude of characters with a turn of the head or an eyebrow raised brings echoes of his earlier triumphant shows such as Animal Farm and Under Milk Wood. Here Dickens's cast, from Jacob Marley to Tiny Tim and Old Fezziwig jostle for space in a show that runs for nearly an hour and a half. There is barely a break for Scrooge to snooze, between each ghostly visitation. This one-man show is a prodigious trial of memory, but also a test of an actors mettle in terms of concentration and physical fitness. There is plenty of dancing too, as we move from the narrow Counting House to the jollity of Christmas Past, the making-do of Christmas Present and grim forebodings of the grave that must await us all. Subtle use of an echo mic for the Spirits visitation, along with some fine underscoring, underlines the shifting mood. But the actor bears the load of adding light and shade to Dickens's tale. Masterson has used the original text from the authors own dramatic readings of the story. But thanks to the minimal staging - a wooden chair, a raincoat on a hook, echoes of the modern world are never far behind. Skinflint Scrooges journey to redemption from despair is something more than a cosy tale to wile away a winter's night. Ghosts of Ignorance and Want remind us of the final question Are these shadows of the things that Will be, or of things that May be?" Masterson's production is an understated warning and a celebration of the hope for human kind. In short, it is A Christmas Carol for our time." (Peter Fanning - Public Review - 27/11/17))
BBC RADIO SHROPSHIRE (01/12/17)
MAGIC FROM ONE MAN AND HIS MAC
"Guy Masterson is a bear of a man and a phenomenal actor. And he draws deep upon both those attributes to power his way through his latest theatrical challenge; his one-man presentation of Charles Dickens' Christmas tale.
He premiered this latest creation in a cosy barn, deep in the Shropshire countryside, before an audience who had seen sufficient Masterson shows to be full of anticipation. And their expectations were more than fulfilled.
It's a bare stage, wreathed in black drapes, from which hangs a limp, pale raincoat that becomes all manner of things including the illusion of flying.
The other weapons in Masterson's armoury are a subtle sound track, some startling lighting, and himself; his frame almost filling the space, like a human prop in a Victorian mine shaft.
The characterisations (of practically every major figure in the book) are devoid of cliché. Like all the very best actors, he does very little - but just enough - to differentiate between the kind and the cruel, and the quick and the dead.
Scrooge, for example, is played remarkably straight with barely a croak or stoop. And yet, with just one sideways stare, the cold chill of a Christmas-unobserved pours across the footlights; in sharp contrast with the wafting warmth of the Cratchit parlour. It's all done with cross-fading lights and variations of voice; and, in the case of the four spirits, with a resounding echo box. It was so intricate I was left wondering how it was done and Masterson wasn't telling. (Someone at the back of the barn must have had very nimble fingers).
What he does tell - wonderfully well - is Dickens' classic story, with purity, poignancy and panache. Just when you thought youd seen enough Christmas Carols to guide you to your grave along comes one of the best yet; seemingly effortless, but hugely effective." (Chris Eldon Lee)
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|A Christmas Carol 4 min teaser
"Marley was dead!" to "God bless us, everyone!"
5Mb - 4 mins
GUY MASTERSON - Performer (click for additional biographical material)
After obtaining a Joint Honours degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Cardiff University in 1982, Guy studied drama at UCLA's School of Drama and started as an actor in 1985 in Hollywood. He returned to the UK in 1989 to study further at LAMDA. He is an multi-award winning actor, playwright, director, producer, international presente, dramaturge and renowned acting and executive coach.
Following a conventional start in plays, film and television, Guy began solo performing in 1991 with The Boy's Own Story and thence Under Milk Wood in 1994 and Animal Farm in 1995. He first produced/directed in 1993 with Playing Burton participated at the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time in 1994. The following 26 seasons saw his association with many of Edinburgh's most celebrated hits, and his company became EdFringe's most awarded independent theatre producer - garnering 8 Scotsman Fringe Firsts, 3 Herald Angels, 25 Stage Award nominations (including 4 wins) together with numerous lesser awards. Guy also directed two of Edinburgh's biggest grossing dramatic hits: 12 Angry Men - famously starring a cast of well known comedians including Bill Bailey, Dave Johns and Phil Nichol, which then toured Australia and New Zealand - and The Odd Couple (2005) starring Bill Baile and Alan Davies. He also originated One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (2004) starring Christian Slater and Mackenzie Crook which transferred to teh Gielgud Theatre in London's West End and later, The Garrick. His 2009 production of Morecambe transferred to The Duchess Theatre in the West End and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment (plus another nomination for the actor playing Eric).
At Edinburgh 2014 his epic 30 actor adaptation of Animal Farm produced by Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre of Tbilisi, Georgia, won the Stage Award for Best Ensemble. His production of The Marilyn Conspiracy was due to transfer to London in June 2020 but was postponed by Covid19. Most notably, his 2019 hit, The Shark Is Broken finally opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End in October 2022 and was Olivier Award nominated for Best New Comedy. It since played seven weeks in Toronto, and will open at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway in August 2023.
Most recently, he directed Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré at the Playground Theatre in London, and co-directed the award winning The Marvellous Elephant Man - The Musical at the 2023 Adelaide Fringe Festival and Melboburne International Comedy Festival.
As a performer, he won The Stage Best Actor Award in 2001 for Fern Hill & Other Dylan Thomas and was aslo nominated in 1998 for A Soldier's Song, in 2003 for Best Solo Performance for Under Milk Wood, and again for Shylock in 2011. In 2003, he also received Edinburgh's most prestigious accolade, The Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe Award. His most recent solo work, A Christmas Carol, has sold nearly every ticket over 5 festive seasons since it opened in 2017.
His theatrical commitments have largely kept him out of mainstream film and television, however, he made the obligatory appearance on Casualty (Christmas Special 2004) and has been the Franziskaner Monk - the face of the premium German weissbier - since 2007! He also writes plays, screenplays and poetry, is an executive performanc and confidence coach. His passion is to bring great new ideas to life and fresh talent to the stage.
He is married to Brigitta and father to Indigo and Tallulah...
NICK HENNEGAN - Adaptor & Director
Nick's first professional outing as a writer and director was a one-person version of Shakespeare's classic, Henry V - Lion of England which hit at Edinburgh 1992, Stratford-upon-Avon and toured the USA, Ireland and the UK. . His second Shakespeare adaptation, Hamlet - Horatios Tale, featured Sir Derek Jacobi. Both were reprised at Edinburgh 2018 (starring Kizzy Dunn) to great acclaim. His domestic ghost story, A Ghost Of A Chance, won a Guinness Award through the Royal National Theatre; and P.A.L.S., a tragicomedy about four friends growing up in Birmingham, attracted critical acclaim and record audiences in the city, and was reprised at Edinburgh 2019 along with his new adaptation of Romeo & Juliet.
He established Maverick Theatre Company with musician Robb Williams in 1994. Launched by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, it was the citys first regular producing pub theatre. He has written, produced and presented numerous radio documentaries including Images From Within and Susan And Friends (Sony Radio Award Winner) and The Pocket Guide to Rock (24 part series for Global Radio) and presented for numerous commercial and BBC radio stations in the regions and in London. He wrote and directed the short film Boy Girl Boy Bike and has written numerous TV commercials for Birmingham Cable/Telewest/Virgin Media. He also won an erotic fiction award for a short story with Chrysalis Books, and has written theatre reviews and articles for numerous publications. His acclaimed four-person adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol enjoyed sell-out runs in Birmingham and London, and he adapted and directed this solo version with Guy Masterson. He edited Confessions Of A Butcher Boy by Norman Raybone and released a stream of consciousness diary from 1997 about running a theatre company, How to Make A Crisis Out Of A Drama! He wrote and directed the theatrical promenade tour, The London Literary Pub Crawl which is running in the West End of London. For International Dylan Thomas Day in 2015 he produced The Roaring Boys.
He was nominated for a millennium Creative Briton award, has an MA in Creative Producing from the University of London, and won a Society of London Theatre, Stage One bursary award.
ROBB WILLIAMS - Composer
Robb has always been passionate about creating music and started his first band at Art College in Maidstone whilst studying for his degree in illustration. That was during the heady days of Punk where he was "forced" into playing guitar, but his real love lay in the burgeoning world of electronic music so Robb quickly moved onto keyboards, performing and composing with several bands around the Midlands.
Robb's first foray into the world of composing for theatre was for Nick Hennegan's Henry V - Lion of England, a one man adaptation of Shakespeare's classic play. Robb toured extensively with the show playing the music live during the performance. The collaboration proved highly successful and led to Robb and Nick co-founding the award winning Maverick Theatre. Over the years Robb has scored many productions for Maverick including Hamlet & Horatio's tale, A Ghost Of A Chance, Birmingham People's Company production of Henry V and Hancock's Finest Hour. Robb's reputation for being able to compose and arrange to tight deadlines led to regular work as a composer for TV advertising and documentaries.
Robb has now returned to his native Cornwall where he lives with his wife Natalie, children Jamie and Lauren and a scruffy Jack Russell called Harry. Robb divides his time between composing and arranging music, multimedia design and running the award winning Iconik Photography with Natalie.
CHARLES DICKENS - Author
Charles Dickens was born in 1812, in Portsmouth, England. In 1822, the Dickens family moved to Camden Town, a poor neighborhood in London as the family's financial situation had grown dire. His father, John Dickens was sent to prison for debt in 1824, when Charles was 12 years old. Charles was forced to leave school to help support his family by working at a run-down, rodent-ridden boot-blacking factory alongside the Thames. He earning six shillings a week labeling pots of blacking - a substance used to clean fireplaces. Dickens saw this as the moment he said goodbye to his youthful innocence, wondering how he could be so easily cast away at such a young age, abandoned and betrayed by the adults who were supposed to take care of him - sentiments which became a recurring theme in his writing. He started writing when he had to drop out of school to work as an office boy to contribute again to his familys income but he was soon reporting for two major London newspapers. In 1833, he met Catherine Hogarth (Kate), whom he soon married and had 10 children. Dickens also started publishing Bentley's Miscellany Monthly in which he serialised his first novel, Oliver Twist. The novel was extremely well received in both England and America where dedicated readers of Oliver Twist eagerly anticipated each monthly instalment. From 1838 to 1841, he published The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit and A Christmas Carol. In 1842, Dickens embarked on his first US tour and became an instant celebrity. His 75 readings netted an estimated $95,000, which, in the Victorian era, amounted to approximately $2 million in current U.S. dollars. From 1849 to 1850, Dickens worked on David Copperfield, his personal favourite work. During the 1850s, Dickens suffered the deaths of his daughter and father and, in 1858 separated acrimoniously from his wife of 35 years and took up with a young actress named Ellen "Nelly" Ternan... but he was very careful about leaving any hard evidence of this relationship. His novels also began to express a darkened world view: Bleak House (1853); Hard Times (1854); Little Dorrit (1857); A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1861), which is widely considered to be his greatest literary accomplishment. A few years later, Dickens produced Our Mutual Friend (1864) In 1865, Dickens was in a train accident from which he never fully recovered, though he continued to tour until shortly before his death. After suffering a stroke, Dickens died at age 58 on June 9, 1870 at his country home in Kent, and was buried in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey. At the time of his death, his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, was unfinished.
I'm ashamed to say that over 50 years of life, I had not seen or read Dickens' classic Christmas Carol in any of its forms - including the Muppets... until, in 2016, Nick Hennegan of Maverick Theatre Company invited me to read it in front of 180 guests at the newly restored and very beautiful Fitzrovia Chapel in London. I was entirely enchanted - as were our guests - so I decided to commit it to memory and offer it as a new show in my particular physical storytelling style - playing all the characters myself! It really is a great story and, in our commercial, consumeristic society, a timeless and important reminder of what Christmas is really about. I am thrilled at the prospect of many a great festive night sharing this classic fable with audiences or all guises and ages!
I set up Maverick Theatre to encourage new audiences among those not previously exposed to live theatre. I particularly enjoy making classic texts accessible, such as famous Shakespeare titles and Dickens...
I've been living with Dickens' Ghosts since, as a small boy in Birmingham, I was given a young person's edition of the classic. Every Christmas, I'd faithfully read it, ensuring I finished the last chapter on 24 December.
And I hope you will feel some of the same magic I felt. Storytelling is a powerful art and adding a technical dimension to it makes it even stronger, particularly when working with a talent like Guy Masterson - a towering storyteller with an international reputation.
Click on image
to download tek specs
A Christmas Carol can play in any space ranging from theatres, village halls, pubs, restaurants and private living rooms. Outside of theatres, compromises can be made to lighting, but not to sound. A full PA system is required. In private venues, PA system can be provided.
In all theatres, sound and lights will require ONE operator - unless sound and lighting positions are not together.
To View or Download Technical Specifications click here
To Download Technical Script click
DOWNLOAD SCRIPTS: FULL VERSION 70 MIN VERSION (for schools & colleges)
||75 LX Cues
A: Centre Spot Special (Steel Blue Lee 117)
B: Warm Wash (Middle Wash) (Chocolate (Lee 156)
C: Warm Wash (Full Wash) Chocolate(Lee 156 or Straw L103)
D: Near Vertical Special (Steel Blue Lee 117)
E: Cold Wash (Steel Blue Lee 117)
F1, F2, F3: 3 Steel Blue Birdie Floor lights (Steel Blue Lee 117) (seperate channels)
F4: Red Birdie Floor light (Red Lee 106)
||Qlab provided on Mac Laptop 100 cues.
Good Amplification and Speakers with fold-back. (This can be provided for Pub Spaces & Living Rooms.)
NOTE: A lapel mic is required run through an effects processor to provide 3 reverb and echo effects. Please inform if this cannot be provided.
||Provided by artist on the day - to be operated by one highly competent in-house operator BUT TWO iF sound and lights cannot be operated from same position.
Operation involves self cueing from script, SFX on Qlab, LX on programmed board and Mic On/Off and changing effects.
DOWNLOAD SCRIPT (FULL VERSION)
CHRISTMAS CAROL FULL SHOW runs 80 minutes plus an interval (45 & 40)
OR 70 mins straight through for schools audiences you may have the shortened show without an interva (DOWNLOAD 70 MIN SCRIPT)
Guy Masterson generally travels with scripts, laptop for SFX and a lapel mic. An effects unit can be provided if notified in advance..
If travelling by car, he will also bring chair. If travelling by ticketed transport, please provide chair (image below).
Suitable for auditoria ranging from the intimate (100 seats) to the large (1500 seats). 1 hook on 7m of black cord (provded)
suspended from grid Clean black flooring, tabs & backdrop are required. If the floor is very scuffed, please repaint or lay dance floor.
Also required: Smoke machine or fogger.
||The show requires only a bare, clean, open stage wth clean black tabs.
Minimum playing area is 4 meters wide by 3 meters deep. This is compact. Larger is preferable.
|Set up & Rehearsal
||Approximately 3 hours depending on the size of the space.
Image of wooden chair required
when company is travelling by Public Transport