Dickens magic dazzles

A Christmas Carol at Theatre 44

Despite only four weeks of planning and preparation, Theatre 44’s production of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, played at the venue on the weekend, delighting audiences throughout the two performances.

Director Deb Hunt told the Barrier Truth that although it was put together in a month, everyone involved from the stage, set, lighting, and cast, combined to present a show that had the crowd mesmerised from the very beginning – even if it was a script-in-hand performance.

“I was so proud of everybody and what they achieved, especially since we had some people who had never been on stage before, it gave them the experience of being on stage under the lights in front of an audience, and they all rose to the occasion. I was so proud,” Ms Hunt said.

“We had some great feedback from the audience. I think that is testament to the dedication of people like Armando (Licul), who’s so talented when it comes to lighting and sound and special effects, but also the cast who wholeheartedly threw themselves into it.

“All the feedback from the audience is that as soon as the show starts, you just forget that people are carrying scripts because the performance is what takes over; the production values were so high, and the acting was so good that everybody simply believed the story. They believed they were in Victorian London.”

A back projection of the set was used to set the scenes for the show, with old scenery found backstage that looked like a London skyline being assembled, with fake snow sprinkled on top. Mr Licul said it was a case of trying to find the best and most efficient way to present the atmosphere as best they could.

“We ended up with a pretty good atmospheric representation of a set. It took a minimal effort, and we achieved a maximum result,” he told us.

“A lot of it was improvisation and finding the best bits and pieces to work with and I think we achieved quite an effect. Then when you’ve got a set like that and you add smoke and atmospheric sound and specialty lighting, you can transform a space into anything you’d like it to be. The judicious use of a bit of artistic flair.”

Ms Hunt concluded by saying “it’s amazing how you can just create magic for a very brief period and then when you turn the lights on and pull it all down, you realise it was all an illusion but for the time that you were performing, it was absolutely real. There’s something magical about theatre.”

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