REVIEW (From a distance): A Christmas Carol, Polka Theatre

One of our lockdown highlights was the fantastic adaptation of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, created in cardboard splendor by designer, Sam Wilde and performed by director, Ian Nicholson. Since then the pair have gone on to complete Klassen’s hat trilogy for Little Angel Theatre and also branched out into cardboard puppet opera with Shh, We have a Plan! (with English Touring Opera). They have now been reunited along with the hat trilogy sound designer, Jim Whitcher for a brand new adaptation of A Christmas Carol. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at it before it hits the inboxes of Polka Theatre subscribers.

As expected, it’s 18 minutes of pure joy, performed with characteristic charm by Nicholson, who both narrates the story and puppeteers an array of cardboard characters (assisted by Sally Edwards). The action takes place inside a beautifully crafted cardboard puppet theatre and Wilde has really outdone himself with his amazing collection of puppets and props. Almost everything is made out of recycled materials – and not just cardboard – All the waste that is generated over the Christmas period has been expertly repurposed to set the scene for this festive favourite. From intricate miniature puppets to an Ian Nicholson-sized skeleton, it’s hard to believe that this has all been created from what we would ordinarily throw away.

Nicholson’s script (written with a little help from a Mr Charles Dickens) is entertaining and accessible, condensing the classic into a neat, child-friendly version set to a suitably spooky, but not too scary soundtrack from Whitcher. Mummy enjoyed the early nod to the hat trilogy, with Nicholson sporting a collection of different headwear before settling on an appropriately Dickensian top hat. A predictable play on the word ‘present’ is also used to excellent effect, neatly tying together Nicholson’s script with Wilde’s designs.

It’s a brilliant take on a traditional tale which feels more relevant than ever this year, and if you don’t sign up to the Polka Newsletter and take 18 minutes out of your day to watch it, we have nothing more to say but “Bah Humbug”.

Christmas Carol is supported by Arts Council England. It will be available exclusively from 19th December for those who sign up to the Polka newsletter before Christmas.   Here’s a handy link to get yourself signed up, because we’re feeling all festive and kind:

Age recommendation: 4+

Accessibilty: VocalEyes will bring the production to life for blind and visually impaired people through an accompanying audio description. This will include an audio introduction establishing the visual world of the production including setting and characters, in addition to the ‘through description’ of the film itself, mixed with the original soundtrack.