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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


December 2, 2022 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mesmerising in his delivery, Guy Masterson’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL is one of the best theatre adaptations to grace the stage. 

In 1843 there was a novella published. That novella was A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens and would go on to be one of the most consistently read works on the planet. It has never been out of print, it has been translated into every language and countless film and theatre productions have portrayed the tale of Scrooge, his fear, his hope and his redemption with varying success.

The performance starts with the audience being taken back in time by a brief but very effective audio montage; we are no longer in 2022, we are in London on a cold and bleak Christmas Eve. It is cold, it is foggy, Scrooge is a miser resenting more than one coal on a fire for his clerk, Bob Cracchit and with his own ideas on how to “decrease the surplus population” of waifs and strays. The scene is set for us to fly with Scrooge on his journey, a tale we all know but with this telling as fresh as the day it was published.

Our sole guide is Guy Masterson who is mesmerising in his delivery, there is not one utterance that goes unheard, not one action that is missed where the audience are not enthralled under a spell of pure joy. Captivated by a story heard so many times a pin dropping would have been loud enough to have been the clanking of the chains surrounding Marley. A solo performance is hard, it is hard on the actor to hit the right note with the audience, to build the suspense and to convey the atmosphere and nuances of each character but in this performance that is exactly what happens; it is simply a tour de force of storytelling. Characters are conveyed with not only voice changes but also in mannerisms, descriptions are lucious and vivid and the attention to the text is detailed.

Writer and director Nick Hennegan has worked from an early script by Dickens himself for his reading tours for this live performance and it shows. More than anything it feels not like an adaptation, not a glossy rewrite but unmistakably Dickensian, the words are not merely written and spoken, they are painted on a page and recounted with passion.

This performance has been met with critical acclaim and rightly so. It is simply the best theatre adaptation I have witnessed; whether that is because of the sheer power of the delivery by Guy Masterson, the “stripped back” nature of the staging or merely the fact that a work first given to the work nearly 200 years ago is as relevant today as ever I don’t know. What I do know is that it is not so much a performance as an experience. In the theatre you could feel the audience living every word and perhaps that is the measure of the work and the performance that touches all. After watching this powerful adaptation you may just, in the words of Scrooge himself, “honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year”.

REVIEW: A CHRISTMAS CAROL – BATH THEATRE ROYAL - Ustinov Studio - Bath Chronicle & Western Daily Press 22/12/22

It's Christmas week and what could be more festive and alive but a very different performance of Dickens' famous and most Christmassy of classics, A Christmas Carol? But this one man adaptation is like no other.

Forget the Muppets, forget all the corny, over-sentimentalised movies, this is Dickens in the flesh, the real stuff, the words off the page.

Olivier and multi award-winning, Guy Masterson plays the characters himself in this most famous of stories, and he is unbelievably energetic and convincing in each role.

At times, you forget you're in a theatre so real and alive are the characters and the story is given a whole new energy in this most intimate performance.

On the opening night on Tuesday, the sellout audience was completely captivated and enchanted as Masterson delivered each character with booming voice and unbelievable movement: He dances, mimes, mimics, prances around with such vitality, creating a wonderful atmosphere of Ustinov, the perfect setting for the story.

The performance brings Dickens' words to life in a whole new way. It is stripped down, no-nonsense storytelling with unbelievable energy and commitment from this talented performer.

The only prop on stage at the wonderfully intimate Ustinov is a raincoat hanging on a hook. Masterson manages to seamlessly, change, voice, accent and stature to each of the main characters, narrator, Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim et al, and the audience is transported back to the real meaning of Christmas and of Dickens' original words on the page.

It is storytelling in the grand oral tradition, but brought to life with such physicality and energy. By Masterson, it really brings the story back to its original strength, Dickens, masterful, description, and humour is highlighted to the delight of the audience.

It is an exhausting but exciting performance by Masterson in this adaptation by Nick Hennegan, and the musical score by Robb Williams adds tension and atmosphere at the Ustinov... it is very ghostly, dark and scary at times.

Hennegan and Masterson have collaborated before to make well-known classics, including Shakespeare, Dickens and Dylan Thomas accessible to audiences of all ages.

It is a perfect way to spend a Christmas night in Bath in this co-production with Maverick Theatre, which brings this most Christmassy of Christmas tales to life in the atmospheric setting of the Ustinov Studio.

Dickens' Christmas message of generosity to fellow man was never so vivid, and given a whole new meaning for the times we live in.

A Christmas Carol runs until December 31 at the Ustinov, there is limited availability as most performances are sold out.  (Nancy Connolly)

Review:  A Christmas Carol – Ustinov Studio Bath – Bristol Post, Thursday, December 22, 2022


Guy Masterson takes audiences at the Ustinov Studio back to the golden age of storytelling with his solo version of probably the most famous of all Christmas stories, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

It was the author himself who, in 1853, decided that his short story about the redemption of the miserly businessman, Ebeneezer Scrooge, after the visit of four ghostly figures, would make a good basis for his first public reading.

The choice proved to be a fine one, and Dickens went on to repeat the performance more than 100 times. The number of times that Nick Hennegan's adaptation of the story has been performed by Guy Masterson throughout the country, including a memorable season of Ustinov in 2020, since it premiered thee years earlier, probably now exceeds the number of times the author presented it. The big difference between the two versions is that whereas Masterson has the help of original music by Robb Williams and modern theatre technology, Dickens, who stood behind a lectern, could only count on his own mesmerising personality and voice.

Dickens, unlike Masterson, did not have to compete with the many film versions that have been made, full of cinematic wizardry, and if you include the musical version, a cast of hundreds. Placed between these two extremes, where does Guy Masterson's interpretation fit in? The answer is far nearer a Dickens reading than a big-screen presentation.

There is no lectern on stage, just a plain wooden chair, and a hook stage left where a coat can be placed, if necessary. No video screen adorns the rear and, apart from the occasional echo effect, the voice projection is unadorned.

Lighting and sound effects are used to excellent effect, although more effective because they are sparingly used.

You can debate, as is always the case, whether the adapter/director, Nick Hennegan has placed the greatest emphasis in the right place, and whether or not, he has allowed the actor too much, or too little room to create his own portrait of Scrooge. All of which leaves the major burden of success or failure of this presentation firmly in the hands of the actor, Guy Masterson. Dressed sometimes in a shabby raincoat, a loose shirt, baggy trousers and boots, Guy backs himself to place the character firmly in Victorian London without the help of period costume, and succeeds fully in the game.

While using the full range of his voice, he does not indulge in violent changes of tone to paint portraits of the numerous characters who inhabit Scrooge's mind during this Christmas period.

When it comes to an outpouring of passion, as Scrooge is enveloped in remorse, there is no holding back. This is acting in the grand manner, bearing the very soul of the man who represents the worst and very best of the meaning of Christmas.

Never missing a beat, or stumbling over a word, this is a theatrical tour de force. (Gerry Parker) 

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