Not a “Bah humbug!” in sight but candy canes aplenty at Farlington!December 8, 2016
Scrooge is such a well-known story that it can be difficult to bring it back to life without the ghosts of productions past!
Emma Spires and her young performers achieved sparkling originality in one fell swoop by throwing away the script – quite literally – and devising their production from scratch. They breathed fresh new life into this well-loved tale using the technique of Charles Dickens (Amelia Bell) appearing in a young girl’s (Ella Jones) room to narrate his tale.
The combination of Amelia and Ella worked perfectly to guide the audience through the evening. They looked relaxed and chatted as if old friends which, by the end, we felt they were!
Scrooge himself was played by the multi-talented Amy Hourihan. She transformed before our eyes from the original grumpy old man to party-throwing benevolent benefactor. Amy ensured the transformation was believable, showing an assured and thoughtful stage presence throughout.
The Cratchit family comprising Bob (Lucy Pocock), Emily (Millie Bubb), Belinda (Florence Mckenzie) Martha (Saffron Hill-Chambers) and of course Tiny Tim (Millie Lewis) showed us how we should all behave, despite misfortune. The group worked together very well and had clearly clicked as a team.
Lucy Pocock also played Jacob and Millie played Marley, which led to a lovely, deliberate, jump-on-stage-at-the-wrong-time ‘surprise’ moment early on. This showed just how much the young performers had embraced the freedom of devised drama and allowed the audience to relax and enjoy the surprises to come.
There were the traditional ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-To-Come… except the names were the only traditional thing about them! Once again the sheer delight and enjoyment of the cast came through the performances of Amelia Wright and Gracie Wilkinson – Ghosts of Christmas Past. These good-time party girls owned the stage (and entire studio theatre) with their spirited (no pun intended) performance. These modern ‘it’ girls took Scrooge travelling through time by Tube to show him the errors of his ways in times gone by, then handed over to the equally talented Caitlin Ruddy and Pia Roberts as the Ghosts of Christmas Present, before Gracie transformed herself entirely into the dark and ominous figure of Christmas Yet-To-Come.
Scrooge’s nephew Fred was played superbly by Emily Higgs, already a seasoned performer despite being in Year 7, clearly a talent to watch in future productions. Similarly, ones to watch out for in the future are: Olivia Watts as Fred’s wife, Constance; Phoebe Bloor-Black as Mr Fezziwig; Maddy Schlaefli as Mrs Fezziwig; and Issy Birch as the school teacher.
All of the above were delightfully supported by the chorus consisting of Issy Birch, Phoebe Bloor-Black, Phoebe Foden, Emily Higgs, Saffron Hill-Chambers, Lucy Hunt, Millie Lewis, Florence McKenzie, Maddy Schlaefli and Olivia Watts.
Genuinely seasoned (i.e. significantly older) girls supported the actresses by doing make-up (Rosie Wales) and as Assistant Directors, Abigail Hart and Rebecca Farman, who also oversaw sound and lights for the show. It is lovely to see the older girls so involved in and enjoying the work of younger girls. I have no doubt that the young crew will delight in watching the Upper School Production next term and be inspired by it. Other invaluable contributions from the older girls were Stage Managers Amber Dale and Lauren Elliott, with the set being painted by Erin Clarke, Rebecca Farman, Eleanor Li & Nicky Wong, under the skilled guidance of our Head of Art, Rosalyn Sprey.
I cannot recall when I enjoyed a performance of Scrooge more. This gem of devised drama showed how energy and talent can be poured into the bare bones of a good tale. The directing talent of Emma Spires allowed the Lower School girls the freedom to show off and stretch their talents: which surely is what drama is all about? What struck the audience most was how much fun the cast had, which of course meant we all had a good time too! It kicked off the party season with aplomb so, Merry Christmas one and all!