Dickens of a sequel

PUBLISHED: 13:52 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 17:23 16 August 2010

IT S never occurred to me that Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol was in want of a sequel, but clearly American actor Mark Brown thought otherwise, writes Mark Campbell.

IT'S never occurred to me that Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was in want of a sequel, but clearly American actor Mark Brown thought otherwise, writes Mark Campbell.

Written in 2004, The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge takes place a year after the events of A Christmas Carol and sees Scrooge attempting to sue the various apparitions who visited him for kidnapping, assault and battery.

It's hardly a sequel though, as 90 per cent of Brown's 'new' material is lifted from the original novel. It's a mistake to make it a comedy. A Christmas Carol has the occasional moment of dry wit, but in Brown's inferior remake, the humour is of the most basic kind.

The decision of Janet Clark to direct this for West Wickham's Theatre 62 last week (a UK premiere apparently) was no doubt taken for the best reasons, and it did have a pleasantly Christmassy feel to it, but I couldn't help thinking it was all rather pointless.

However, there were many good things about the production itself. Nigel London was excellent as Scrooge, while Paul Marshall made an engaging job of the defence barrister Solomon Rothschild. Tony Skeggs was ethereally vague as Jacob Marley, with John Heather a Scrooge-like judge presiding over a jovial bailiff (Del Stone) and a public gallery that inexplicably launched into carols whenever the pace looked like slacking.

The theatre's behind-the-scenes crew made a fantastic job of the ghosts, achieving some truly magical effects.

If the final moments are anything to go by, Brown sounds like he's planning another sequel to Dickens' famous tale. To which I can only say: "Bah, humbug!"

The next production at Theatre 62, West Wickham, is Curtains by Stephen Bill, from February 23-28 next year. Tickets: 020 8777 3037.

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