Areview from the BBC of A CHRISTMAS CAROL
"Magic from One Man and his Mac... Guy Masterson is a bear of a man and a phenomenal actor. And he draws deep upon both those attributes to power his way through his latest theatrical challenge; his one-man presentation of Charles Dickens’ Christmas tale.
He premiered this latest creation in a cosy barn, deep in the Shropshire countryside, before an audience who had seen sufficient Masterson shows to be full of anticipation. And their expectations were more than fulfilled.
It’s a bare stage….wreathed in black drapes, from which hangs a limp, pale raincoat that becomes all manner of things…including the illusion of flying.
The other weapons in Masterson’s armoury are a subtle sound track, some startling lighting, and himself; his frame almost filling the space, like a human prop in a Victorian mine shaft.
The characterisations (of practically every major figure in the book) are devoid of cliché. Like all the very best actors, he does very little - but just enough - to differentiate between the kind and the cruel, and the quick and the dead.
Scrooge, for example, is played remarkably straight with barely a croak or stoop. And yet, with just one sideways stare, the cold chill of a Christmas-unobserved pours across the footlights; in sharp contrast with the wafting warmth of the Cratchit parlour. It’s all done with cross-fading lights and variations of voice; and, in the case of the four spirits, with a resounding echo box. It was so intricate I was left wondering how it was done – and Masterson wasn’t telling. (Someone at the back of the barn must have had very nimble fingers).
What he does tell - wonderfully well - is Dickens classic story, with purity, poignancy and panache. Just when you thought you’d seen enough 'Christmas Carol' to guide you to your grave…along comes one of the best yet; seemingly effortless, but hugely effective."
Chris Eldon Lee – BBC Radio
Sent to Guy Masterson on Facebook...
A review from a member of the audience on my first performance of A CHRISTMAS CAROL... (and a big shout out to my director, Nick Hennegan)
“God Bless us everyone,’ cries Tiny Tim. Indeed. God Bless Guy Masterson, whose revival of Dickens’s immortal tale, A Christmas Carol, saw its first performance at the Haystack Theatre, Ford last week.
Masterson is no stranger to one-man presentations. His skill in defining a multitude of characters with a turn of the head or an eyebrow raised brings echoes of his earlier triumphant shows such as ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Under Milk Wood’.
Here Dickens’s cast, from Jacob Marley to Tiny Tim and Old Fezziwig jostle for space in a show that runs for nearly an hour and a half. There is barely a break for Scrooge to snooze, between each ghostly visitation. This one-man show is a prodigious trial of memory, but also a test of an actor’s mettle in terms of concentration and physical fitness. There is plenty of dancing too, as we move from the narrow Counting House to the jollity of Christmas Past, the making-do of Christmas Present and grim forebodings of the grave that must await us all.
Subtle use of an echo mic for the Spirits’ visitation, along with some fine underscoring, underlines the shifting mood. But the actor bears the load of adding light and shade to Dickens’s tale. Masterson has used the original text from the author’s own dramatic readings of the story. But thanks to the minimal staging - a wooden chair, a raincoat on a hook – echoes of the modern world are never far behind. Skinflint Scrooge’s journey to redemption from despair is something more than a cosy tale to wile away a winter’s night. Ghosts of Ignorance and Want remind us of the final question ‘Are these shadows of the things that Will be, or of things that May be?"
Masterson’s production is an understated warning and a celebration of the hope for human kind. In short, it is A Christmas Carol for our time.”
Peter Fanning 27/11/17