A Christmas Carol

Nov 28 2023 | By More

★★★★☆      Splendidly seasonal

Assembly Roxy: Mon 27 Nov – Fri 1 Dec
Review by Allan Wilson

Guy Masterson’s A Christmas Carol is a splendidly seasonal production of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of greed and redemption in a world of extremes of wealth and poverty, playing at the Roxy until Friday.

Masterson is possibly best known to Edinburgh theatre-goers for producing or directing shows at 29 Fringes and is already looking forward to his 30th visit in 2024. However, this solo performance proves that he is a superb actor and storyteller capable of holding the audience’s rapt attention throughout the evening.

Guy Masterson. Pic: Nux Photography

Following the publication of A Christmas Carol in 1843, Dickens had a fall-out with his publisher, which led to financial difficulties. He chose to resolve them by giving a series of public readings of the novella delivered from a lectern. These proved to be very popular – and lucrative for the author, who continued to give regular readings for the rest of his life.

Most people are familiar with the story of how Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him of further visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. These ghosts reveal the reasons for Scrooge becoming fixated with money, with little regard for other people, and convince him of the need to change.

full command of the stage

There have been many modern updates to the original story, but this production, energetically adapted and directed by Nick Hennegan, revisits Dickens’ original performance text and allows Masterson to show his full command of the stage.

Masterson skilfully shows the transformation in Scrooge from a miserable miser with no pleasures in life to a happy figure, full of laughter and smiles, transformed by these ghostly visions to become a man of compassion and generosity.

The A Christmas Carol set in place at the Roxy. Pic: Guy Masterson

He moves around the basic set – a simple wooden chair and a raincoat hanging from a hook above – sometimes acting out a scene, sometimes dancing, sometimes standing to address the audience, occasionally returning to his chair.

In Masterson’s hands the raincoat becomes a dressing gown as Scrooge prepares for his ghostly night-time visitors – or a dance partner as he revisits the merry dances of his youth with the Ghost of Christmas Past.


Masterson plays all of the characters, giving Scrooge a Cockney accent, while the others have more standard, but still distinguishable, accents. He has fun with the female voices, particularly that of Scrooge’s niece as she flirts with friends. The voices of the ghosts are given a spooky feel with the subtle use of echo effects.

The other sound effects, ranging from creaking doors and locks to Marley’s chains are excellent, as is Robb Williams’ score. Lighting is sparse, but changing subtly between warmer oranges and reds to colder blues and whites to reflect the changes of mood.

Guy Masterson’s A Christmas Carol makes a refreshing return to the original Dickens text, demonstrating that it is not always necessary to update the script and themes of a play in order to present an enthralling piece of drama.

Running time: One hour and 55 minutes (including one 20 minute interval).
Assembly Roxy (Upstairs), 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU
Monday 27 November – Friday 1 December 2023.
Evenings: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Guy Masterson’s tour of A Christmas Carol continues throughout December.

Bath Theatre Royal (Main House) Sawclose, Bath BA1 1ET: Sun 3, Mon 11 & Mon 18 Dec. Tickets and details: Book here.

Boscastle Village Hall, Boscastle, Cornwall PL35 0AT: Tue 12 Dec. Tickets and details: Book here.

SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam St. New York, NY 10013: Wed 20 – Sun 24 and Tue 26 – Sat 30 Dec, 2023. Tickets and details: Book here.


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