Reading Rep presents A Christmas CarolBy Caroline Cook
December 13, 2012
T’will be the night before Christmas when families step out of the frosty night in Reading and into the cobbled streets of Dickensian London.
Professional theatre company Reading Rep, will be spreading some festive magic when it debuts its version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve.
Charles Dickens’ classic tale will be told by a talented cast which includes television and film actor Ian Cullen, and Oliver Dench, great nephew of stage and screen legend Dame Judi Dench.
“I’m massively looking forward to it,” says Oliver (pictured inset). “I have joined rehearsals halfway into it to play the role of Young Scrooge.
“It’s a great show, it’s going to be really Christmassy and great fun. I love Christmas and there’s a lot of music and carols in the show.”
Reading Rep will be presenting a traditional version of the story – which also begins on Christmas Eve.
The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge shuts up shop for the night after begrudgingly giving Bob Cratchit, his underpaid clerk, Christmas Day off.
When he arrives home Scrooge is visited by his former business partner Jacob Marley – who died seven years before.
And so begins a journey to past, present and future, unravelling the roots of Scrooge’s mean-spirit and showing him what will become of it.
But will Scrooge see the error of his ways in time for Christmas Day?
“The Christmas past bits are my main focus,” explains Oliver. “It’s quite depressing because the purpose of my character is to show all the bad parts of Scrooge so it’s all the sad things that happen.
“Scrooge is bullied in school and he’s rejected by his love so it’s all quite sad – but at the same time it’s a lot of fun to play.”
To master the role Oliver has been working closely with older Scrooge Ian, who has extensive acting experience having starred in Z Cars in the early 1970s and also in Doctor Who.
“It’s quite a challenge because there needs to be a connection between the young Scrooge and the old,” explains Oliver.
“Ian and I have been working together doing imitation exercises and vocal exercises.”
But Ian isn’t the only experienced thespian Oliver will be taking tips from.
“It was my grandad [Jeffery Dench, Dame Judi's brother], who inspired me to act,” he says. “He is coming round on Christmas Day and he is an actor so I will probably be going through my lines with him then.”
With acting in the family Oliver has been picking up tips from his relatives and he teamed up with his grandfather and great aunt to record a CD last year.
“Judi, my grandfather and I recorded a CD together of reading and monologues from Shakespeare,” he says. “It’s such an inspiration to have people within the family who I can look to.”
Oliver says he is looking forward to his grandfather coming to see the show at Christmas, adding: “I hope I can go and make him proud.”
Families from across Reading will be coming together to watch the show which the young actor says will get everyone in the holiday mood.
The show runs across the Christmas period, with performances at 2pm and 6pm most days. Tickets for the 65-minute show cost £10.
“It’s sticking very much to the traditional story,” says Oliver. “It’s really going to be a feel good piece for the family.
“I think the start and finish with the carols will be most enjoyable and I hope people will leave in the Christmas spirit.”
Reading Rep presents A Christmas Carol from Monday, December 24, to Wednesday, January 2 at Reading College, King’s Road. For more information visit www.readingrep.com