John O’Connor is Charles Dickens. He is also Marley, The Cratchits, Mr & Mrs Fezziwig, several ghosts and an array of children and other folk in the world of Ebenezer Scrooge in this one-man performance of A Christmas Carol, writes Michael Holland.
The scene is set with a Victorian drawing room, a choir singing carols, and O’Connor himself in 19th century garb. Then, within minutes of him describing the demise of Scrooge’s partner Marley we are all there in his cold, dark and dingy counting house as he berates his hard-working and underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit on Christmas Eve.
But as Scrooge returns to his own cold, dark and dingy home for a bowl of gruel he finds it is time to pay for his miserly ways when he has four visitations from the spirit world: First, Marley’s ghost pleading with him to change his ways, followed by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, all showing him how bad he has been and how he will end up dying alone and unloved.
All this, with just the accompaniment of sound and lighting effects, is created by John O’Connor putting himself in the guise of Charles Dickens on one of his talking tours where he would read extracts from his books.
A Christmas Carol was the first public performance Dickens gave of his own work, and after his opening night he said ‘The success was most wonderful and prodigious – perfectly overwhelming and astounding altogether!’ Dickens, I believe, would say the very same of John O’Connor’s performance.
You too can experience what it must have been like to be in the presence of Charles Dickens in the 1860s, while enjoying a seasonal treat in the spirit of Christmas past, present and future.
The production will be in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital, which Dickens helped to found.
Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, Greenwich SE10 8ES. 13th December, 2.30pm & 7.30pm.