A Christmas Carol

Written by Charles Dickens (adapted by John Mortimer)

Thurs 9th to Sun 12th December & Tues 14th to Sat 19th December 2004

Directed by Mark Wakeman

Scrooge had the blackest heart in London; a miser with a love for nothing except money. He was feared and despised everywhere he showed his scowling face. Until one Christmas Eve, Scrooge receives three spectral visitors, encounters the bleakest terror and the richest delight, and learns, at last, the true meaning of Christmas. For Scrooge this will be no Silent Night...
No childhood can be complete without once experiencing Dickens' classic tale of redemption, and this magic adaptation by John Mortimer, full of laughter, thrills, songs and chills is a perfect start to a family Christmas.

This is a family play but is not recommended for children under 8 years of age.

AuthorCharles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)

Author of the original novel on which this play was based, Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth and was lucky enough to be sent to school at the age of nine. This was for only a short time, however, as his father was imprisoned for debt soon after. He began his literary career as a journalist, becoming parliamentary journalist for The Morning Chronicle in 1833. In April 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth and within the same month came the publication of the highly successful 'Pickwick Papers'.

His written works include over a dozen major novels, a large number of short stories, a handful of plays, and several non-fiction books. He also published an autobiography, edited weekly periodicals and administered charitable organisations. He was also a theatre enthusiast and performed before Queen Victoria in 1851. He had a strong social conscience and wanted to bring to public notice the injustice he saw all around him. Much of Dickens' work is incisive commentary which exposes the reality of the harshness of working class life. He spent much time abroad - for example lecturing against slavery in the United States. He was estranged from his wife in 1858 after the birth of their ten children, but maintained relations with his mistress, the actress Ellen Ternan. After he died of a stroke, he was buried at Westminster Abbey.

AdaptationJohn Mortimer

Sir John Clifford Mortimer (1923 - 2009)

John Mortimer was born in Hampstead, London, the child of a barrister. He was educated at Harrow and Brasenose College, Oxford. Following his qualification and the end of the war, he was called to the Bar in 1948 and became a QC in 1966.

Mortimer is perhaps best-known as the creator of 'Rumpole of the Bailey', although his work in total includes over fifty books, plays and scripts. His other works include the autobiographical play, 'Voyage Round my Father', the screenplay for the TV series 'Paradise Postponed' and the novel 'Summer's Lease'.

PlayA Christmas Carol

'A Christmas Carol' was originally published as a novel in 1843 and met with instant success and critical acclaim. Written and published at a time when Britain was experiencing a nostalgic interest in its forgotten Christmas traditions, and at the time when new customs such as the Christmas tree and greeting cards were being introduced, it has been credited with restoring the holiday to one of merriment and festivity. The phrase 'Merry Christmas' was popularised following the appearance of the story, and the name 'Scrooge' and exclamation 'Bah! Humbug!' have entered the English language.

The book has never been out of print, and has been adapted to the stage, film, opera, and other media. The tale begins on Christmas Eve seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley. The story tells of sour and stingy Scrooge's ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visitations of Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

The Bench Production

A Christmas Carol poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


Ebenezer ScroogeAlan Welton
Bob CratchitNeil Kendall
Jacob MarleyJaspar Utley
The Ghost of Christmas PastAlice Corrigan
The Ghost of Christmas PresentAndy Rees
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to ComePete Woodward
Fred, Scrooge's nephewMartin McBride
Tiny TimRupert Powell and
Christopher Goldring
Other parts played byJohn Batstone
Judy Bodenham
Alice Corrigan
Ingrid Corrigan
Alfie Dawes
Daisy Dawes
Sue Dawes
Lucia Ellis-Canzio
John Gains
Lorraine Galliers
Christina Gurza
Mike Haigh
Beth Hanan
Vicky Hayter
David Knight
Andy Rees
John Scadding
Sophie Stoppani
Tim Taylor
Henry Trenchard Mitchell
Jaspar Utley
Mark Wakeman
Julie Wood
Act One Youth TheatreCallum Cairns
Stephanie Dick
Hannah Reason
Nathan Scott
Joanna Stimpson
Anna Whitehouse


Director Mark Wakeman
Co-Directors Nathan Chapman
Zoë Chapman
Producer Jaspar Utley
Publicity Jaspar Utley
Sue Dawes
Stage Manager John Wilcox
Assistant Stage Managers Jo Bone
Gemma Moore
Lighting Design Andrew Caple
Lighting Operation Paul Millington
Sound Design and effects Daryl Wakelin
Sound Operation Chris Stoneham
Darryl Wakelin
Costumes Sue Dawes
Megan Utley
Judy Bodenham
Set Design Tim Taylor
Flier and Poster Design Pete Woodward
Choreography and
Musical Coach
Katherine Wallace
Music Composed by Damian Lodrick
Production Secretary Robin Hall

Director's Notes

It could only be temporary insanity. It was 2003 and there were mutterings in the Company that it was too long (12 years) since we had last done a specifically "family" show. The membership in general was interested, providing the right project could be found; some felt that we should produce a traditional pantomime or perhaps a children's show (not unlike our forthcoming 'Haroun and the Sea of Stories') or..? At some point in the conversation, 'A Christmas Carol' was suggested and I volunteered to direct it.

The idea was put forward with all innocent enthusiasm, for after all, my first show at the Bench has been to take part in 'Martin Chuzzlewit', which has been a mammoth production, and unlike anything I had ever acted in before; a large-scale event that had been so enjoyable that the memories of it still bring a smile to my face now. Yes, a big Dickens production like that, of one of the most famous Christmas stories of all.

So I found myself a copy of the script and it was pitched along with all the other Christmas ideas for the company's vote, still, at this point thinking that someone else would want to direct it. The company did indeed vote for it and for me to direct it!

I had a year and a half to produce the show, surely this would be easy... I need another year... minimum.

Christmas has for a long time been my favourite time of the year (at no other point am I openly encouraged to eat too much and get presents as well!) and 'A Christmas Carol' has long been a favourite story, whether watching Alistair Sim or Albert Finney in the role, enjoying Bill Murray in the updated 'Scrooged' or marvelling at Kermit the Frog's definitive portrayal of Bob Cratchit in 'The Muppets' Christmas Carol' I have enjoyed each and every one, as I hope that you will enjoy this version tonight.

Many people have laboured long and hard to make this production happen and I would like to thank each and every one of them, but I've been given a word limit, but they know who they are... and if they don't they should have been paying more attention!

Thank you also for venturing out tonight to see the show. I hope it does fill you with Christmas cheer because that was our show's only intent.

So Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all, and may the spirits in your house this Christmas only be the ones you drink!

Mark Wakeman


The NewsCatherine Burt

A plentiful supply of Christmas spirit - and no humbug

I am embarrassed to admit that what I remember about this well-known Charles Dickens story comes from 'The Muppets' Christmas Carol' and not from reading the novel years ago. So it's good to have a fresh memory - a delightful performance by Bench Theatre.

The cast, many playing more than one part, bring the streets of Victorian England to life as they tell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. On Christmas Eve, miser Scrooge receives visits from three ghosts to show him Christmas past, present and yet to come and he discovers the true meaning of Christmas. It might not sound very cheery but there are actually plenty of laughs. The theatre company use a simple set and props to best advantage and have some wonderful costumes, especially those of the ghosts.

Alan Welton, who plays Scrooge, keeps the audience spellbound. But it's Neil Kendall who steals the show as Bob Cratchit with his captivating mannerisms. Also worth a mention are the talented actors playing the ghosts, including Jaspar Utley who appears dragging his chains behind him as the ghost of Jacob Marley and Peter Woodward as the eerie ghost of Christmas yet to come.

My only criticism would be the show is very long - three hours including interval. But after such a big dose of spirit an humour you won't be leaving the theatre saying 'Humbug'. Until December 19.

The News, 10th December 2004

Production Photographs