Live Play Review of Patrick Barlow’s A Christmas Carol

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On November 29th, 2019 I went with my family to see A Christmas Carol, the Patrick Barlow adaptation. It was playing live in Nashville at the Nashville Repertory Theatre. It was an amazing play that somehow only included five real stage actors.

The plot of the play was the same as the original text by Charles Dickens. Set in London in the mid 1800’s the play followed the main character Ebenezer Scrooge. It detailed his struggle with the holiday spirit and after a few visits from the Ghost of Christmas past, present, and yet to come, and from an old business partner, Jacob Marley, Scrooge began to change his ways and become a kinder, gentler man. This particular production of the play added a lot of humor which made it more enjoyable. The script writer took plenty of risks with the language and breaking the fourth wall. The way that was accomplished was through the use of puppets on stage during the play to accompany the five actors. Although there were only five actors, only one played Scrooge the whole time while the other four actors played a plethora of actors throughout the play. Barlow also did not strictly adhere to the original script which is why his adaptation is so nuanced in performance and recognition.

As mentioned earlier, there were only five real actors on stage and they included three men and two women. Barlow’s production also included two puppets, one of which played a young Tiny Tim. The set of the play and the props were simple, but they were effective and relative to the setting of the play. I noticed the desk that Scrooge worked at on the play looked similar to the one I saw in the live action movie years earlier. So, that was kind of exciting because it brought back nostalgic memories. The costumes worn by the actors looked pretty detailed. They actually looked like clothing and material that would have been worn during the 19th century, which is when this play is supposed to take place. Also, the shadows of the ghosts were shown, and it was pretty interesting to see; it was almost like a dance of ghosts. This played into the lighting of the show. Whomever was in charge of the lights did a great job because everything was on cue, and the audience could see everything that was going on onstage throughout the whole play.

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Furthermore, the sounds of the play were magical. There was opera-like singing, and live instruments being played on stage by the actual actors. Some of the instruments included the accordion, violin, mandolin, and a multitude of guitars, and also a piano. It made the play seem very exhilarating and I think this appealed to the younger audience members. Some of the Christmas songs that were sang were Deck the Halls, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. There were also ghostly sounds from the ghosts in the play which helped make it realistic.

Additionally, the diction of the play was something interesting to pay attention to. I noticed that the words were often quietly spoken but with some subtle aggression. The actors held almost like a passive aggressive tone of voice during certain parts. With the good job of the lighting, the audience was able to see all of the facial expressions when words were spoken by the actors and it helped convey the message of the emotion the actor was putting off.

The main character of the play was Ebenezer Scrooge. He was the one who the play was centered around. Scrooge was an elderly man who hated Christmas and only cared about himself and greed. It is the people around him, the other characters, that helped to change that character flaw about him. Other main characters included Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, and the three Christmas ghosts. Tiny Tim was a crippled young boy whose father Bob Cratchit works for Scrooge. Jacob Marley was Scrooge’s old business partner who is now a ghost who suffers because of his greed when he was alive. The three ghosts show up to try and convince Scrooge it is time to change his ways or he will suffer in the afterlife.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this play. I was a little skeptical at first because I really liked the live action movie and I did not know if this adaption would live up to its’ hype. Also, I was kind of worried because when I read the book it was a lot scarier, and I did not want to be scared by the play. However, I really enjoyed the humor of the play. I did not actually know it was only five actors until the play started, and I still do not know how I feel about that. It worked for the play, so, I guess that is all that matters. I would recommend this play to everyone who loves the story of A Christmas Carol.

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Live Play Review of Patrick Barlow’s A Christmas Carol. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from
“Live Play Review of Patrick Barlow’s A Christmas Carol.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
Live Play Review of Patrick Barlow’s A Christmas Carol. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 Aug. 2022].
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