So what do people who dress up in historical costume do for fun during their time off over Crhristmas? Dress up in historical costume of course! That, and visit a wonderful, interactive production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at The Core Theatre in Corby Cube.
We were visiting our best friends in Northamptonshire. We are God parents to their children. We were looking for something exciting to do with them for Xmas and we were super pleased to find a performance of this great story on at the Cube. Christmas ghost stories were a huge thing in Victorian times. Every Christmas, through the long cold wintry nights families would gather around the fire and tell each other scarey ghost stories. There are more Xmas ghost stories out there, Dickens is not the only one but nobody knows them any more. What killed this wonderful tradition? I’m not sure, perhaps the advent of the cinema.
As our Godsons are quite small, only 4 & 6, we thought that it might be less scarey for them if Wel and I dressed up in Victorian costume. It would also help us get into the spirit of the thing and make it less scarey for them. Our Godsons both joined in too by donning some Derby Hats. Our youngest Godson was doffing his hat in a most charming fashion, looking every inch the Artful Dodger. We were a little nervous that the kids might be frightened of the ghosts but we had explained to them both before hand what they’d see and I have to say they were completely enthralled.
The Core is a small and intimate theatre and nowhere is very far from the stage. We had elected to sit on the stage when booking our seats, as we thought that this was a rare honour and a very exciting thing to do. We took our seats near the front and placed the boys between us so they wouldn’t feel too scared. The stage area was literally only a couple of feet away from us. The actors were already on the stage, with Scrooge at his writing desk covetously counting his money, a lone candle burning away. The theatre was dark and lit mainly by small twinkly candle like lights.
Before the play commenced, we were all handed fake snowballs by the actors to use later on in the performance. The other actors apart from Scrooge then left the stage and the story began. I think we all know the story quite well so I won’t describe it in full details, just our favourite bits. Like many productions the play was put on with the actors each playing several parts, which is something I’ve always enjoyed about the theatre.
The first ghost Jacob Marley appeared ominously behind a curtain of cobwebs, pushing and groaning his way through towards Scrooge. He put on a hackle raising performance as the chain encumbered Marley and I looked to my youngest Godson to offer him support if he needed it but he was absolutely fascinated and barely sat in his own seat throughout the whole performance.
The next ghost was the ghost of Christas Past, reminding Scrooge of Christmases long gone. During the scene reminiscing on his school days we all got to take part in a snowball fight with the actors and other audience members, which the children loved immensely.
When Scrooge was taken to Fezziwhigs we were invited to come up and join in some dancing with the actors on the stage. Our oldest Godson was straight up there and needed no 2nd invitation! We’d have loved to go ourselves but our youngest was a little scared and we didn’t feel that we could leave him on his own. I think my enormous bustle might have squashed him if I pushed past! They did some Regency style group dancing, the kind of thing that you might see in a Jane Austen story. We were so proud of our Godson joining in, and the actors managed it very well, pairing him up with another little girl to send them dancing merrily down the line. He looked so endearing, it made his Godmothers heart melt.
When the ghost of Christmas Present came on he was quite jolly and not too scarey. The children were astonished at the flying through the air scene, cleverly achieved with some orange boxes and an enormous undulating white sheet, to represent the snowy fields below. This was adults make believing on a big scale! Who could ask for more!
I had always loved the film version of the story with Alister Simms, where the two children, ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Want’ appear under the ghosts cloak. We were treated to the ghostly appearance of these two on the stage and they were very scarey, in fact for our kids it was the scariest part. It was brilliant to see children in the production, particularly because I hoped it would inspire & empower our God children with what they might also be capable of. The children all acted stunningly well.
Next was the ghost I was fearing all along, the ghost of Christmas yet to come. An enormously tall, black shrouded ghost silently entered the stage. The kids were awe struck as it moved slowly around each part of the theatre. I feared that they would be terrified to the bone but instead they were fascinated.
Srooge of course realised the error of his ways and appeared in one of the balconys above, asking what day it was and could the boy run and get him the prize turkey from the butchers shop. Then there was much making merry as he visited his nephews house. There was opportunity to join in singing Christmas carols throughout the play.
At the end of the play there was the usual applause for the actors but they also kindly thanked Wel and I for dressing up, and we even had our own small piece of applause! It may suprise some of you to know, I’m actually very shy but inside every shy person is an extrovert waiting to bust out at every opportunity. I’ve read before that many actors are the same.
As we left there was some impromptu snowballing on the stage. We were then really pleased to find the actors waiting in the bar outside to say gooddbye to everyone. We had our photo taken with Scrooge who was played by Gary Sefton and didn’t notice till afterwards that we were photobombed by the actor playing young scrooge/Scrooges newphew! Thank you guys! A member of the public even asked to have her photo taken with us, which of course we didn’t mind, as we have our photo taken all the time at historic sites.
The kids on being asked, said they enjoyed the ghosts of Christmas present and Christmas yet to come best of all. We do interactive all the time in our job, with children and members of the public and we truly believe it’s what people love and remember best. If only more plays were as fun and interactive as this one, I think the crowds would be knocking down the walls to get in.