Review: A Christmas Carol, at Sheffield Cathedral, is 'endlessly charming with a haunting edge'

Chapterhouse Theatre Company's fantastic production brings the spirit of Christmas from Victorian England to the modern stage, writes Rebecca Symns-Rowley
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Endlessly charming with a haunting edge, Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol is a familiar retelling of a timeless classic.

The production puts Charles Dickens’ well-known Christmas tale onto a small stage, with two nights in Sheffield Cathedral halfway through its nationwide tour in unique venues across the country.

Chapterhouse Theatre Company's production of A Christmas Carol, by Charles DickensChapterhouse Theatre Company's production of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Chapterhouse Theatre Company's production of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
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Troy Chessman carries the cast with his performance as Ebenezer Scrooge. He is intense and intimidating, but his character’s development is truly heartfelt; Chessman’s own emotion shines through Scrooge’s hardened exterior.

That being said, Chessman’s performance is nothing without the extraordinary talent of his fellow actors on stage.

The sincerity of Aidan Valentine’s young Scrooge is a joyful counterpoint to his brooding older self, also mirrored in his portrayal of Fred, Scrooge’s nephew.

The jovial Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Alex Maude in his Chapterhouse debut, is a welcome relief from the sadness exuded in the preceding scenes with Becky Bond’s Ghost of Christmas Past. 

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Rory Moncaster and Natasha Stiven’s portrayal of the Cratchit parents is heartbreakingly sweet and a joy to watch, making it all the harder to see them lead a family that suffers so much tragedy.

Sasha Snowdon’s performance is simply stunning. Her portrayal of both Martha Cratchit and Belle Fezziwig is encapsulating; her vocals resounded beautifully around the cathedral, pulling the venue into a hush until the end of her solo.

The beauty of performing in a venue like Sheffield Cathedral is not only the vast interior, but the creative possibilities it affords.

The play opened with a haunting rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen that echoed around the building, and the carols continued with several festive hymns throughout the production.

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Lighting was a great aid in the play, with the shadows of the cathedral serving as an atmospheric backdrop during the spookier segments of the show.

Whilst the stage was small, the set served its purpose as a divide between the chilling streets of Victorian London and the cosy interiors of the Cratchits' house and Scrooge’s office.

Overall, the show was a fantastic production of a Christmas classic. Laura Turner’s adaptation honours a work that has been retold countless times, but still manages to refresh the narrative that brings the spirit of Christmas from Victorian England to the modern stage.