I remember writing a post this time a year ago saying that Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas unless I see at least one production of ‘A Christmas Carol’. Last year, I watched this 200-year old classic performed beneath the beautiful glass dome of the British Museum; this year, I found myself in a very different, but equally characterful, venue: Tea House Theatre, in Vauxhall.
If you haven’t visited this wonderfully quirky tea-shop-cum-theatre yet, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. Located just inside the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (which merit a blog post all of their own), this is one of the few venues in London offering the chance to tuck into home-made cake displayed on vintage cake stands, drinking tea poured from teapots clad in home-knitted tea cosies.I first came here for one of Tea House Theatre’s monthly stand-up poetry nights, which a friend of mine was performing in, and had a great time – so was pleased to find myself back so soon.
We were promised “A Fireside Reading of ‘A Christmas Carol’”- and that’s exactly what we got. The setting couldn’t have been more atmospheric: with (real!) snow drifting down outside adding extra poetry, we gathered around an authentic log fire to hear actors, including THT’s resident artist, Alain English, read aloud this iconic tale.
No matter how many times I hear it, I never get tired of ‘A Christmas Carol’ – it is timeless, as demonstrated by the fact that, since its publication in 1843, it has never been out of print. It’s also virtually impossible to name a year when there hasn’t been at least one production running in the West End, and myriad other locations around the world. Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come; their names resonate with everyone, as does Dickens’ inimitable use of language (“dead as a doornail” and “Bah humbug!” being just two of this story’s linguistic creations which have entered the national psyche).
So familiar is this Christmas tale of avarice, heartbreak, poverty and redemption that there is no need for me to tell it again. Suffice to say that as we sat, gazing into the fire’s flames, listening to the ghostly events of those fateful December days, we could have been in Dickens’ own parlour, partaking of tea and cake with his family. Dickens loved to read his own stories aloud to his followers, and I think he would have approved wholeheartedly of this 2017 incarnation of his most beloved of novels.