Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

tym and knowles 600Scrooge’s redemption makes for a funny and seasonal Dickens show

Already a popular local tradition, A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol is back again. Bernard McGinley gets festive and forgets about Bah Humbug!

The change of heart of Ebenezer Scrooge has been acted by many: Albert Finney, Alastair Sim, Bill Murray, Ernest Borgnine, Orson Welles, Patrick Stewart and Jim Carrey among them. Since 2016, the transformation of Scrooge has been done locally, in a show performed with great aplomb by John Knowles and Kate Tym, writers, actors and directors of the It’s Not Us theatre company. 

At the Albion pub in George Street, Old Town, they last week again put on their modern version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, complete with local references (such as the Pier and Ore Village, and the Scroogelike views of new MP Sally-Ann Hart on paying the lowly).  

With some highly skilled performances (John Knowles makes an excellent and droll curmudgeon), and deft use of props, music and audience participation, the development and transformation of Scrooge is shown. Kate Tym plays all his many foils (and herself) with impressive physical and vocal dexterity. The ghosts of Jacob Marley (Scrooge’s unhappy business partner) and of various Christmases are there but so too is Greta Thunberg, with some modern insights. Even Kermit the Frog makes an appearance.

Work ethic

tym and knowles 325As a boy, Dickens worked long hours in a rat-infested blacking factory, pasting labels on pots of boot blacking. His interest in social reform thereafter was intense. The new Poor Law of 1834 (pioneered by Edwin Chadwick) stigmatised the poor and devised the ‘indoor relief’ that was the Workhouse. A Christmas Carol (1843) was one response, touching lightly on the grinding struggle of the Cratchit family (including Tiny Tim, ‘a cripple’). 

Scrooge’s belief in prisons and workhouses as institutions to take care of the undeserving is undermined by the sick children he is shown, clearly in need of some care and basic decency. Though the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come indicates that Tiny Tim is destined to die young, Scrooge acts to change the future.  

(Local note:  when St Leonards held its great Public Health Congress in 1889, one of the distinguished participants was the same Sir Edwin Chadwick, who gave a paper on ‘Death Rates and the Census’. Sometimes the past isn’t past.)

tym and knowles2 600

A chance to see

The show – funny, imaginative and engaging – lasts about an hour and 10 minutes, with no interval. The pre-Christmas performance at the White Rock Hotel has sold out. Other pending performances are these: 

White Rock Hotel (downstairs, 1-10 White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JU):
Friday 27 December         7:30pm
Saturday 28 December    
Saturday 28 December    

Robertsbridge Village Hall (11-23 Station Road, Robertsbridge TN32 5DA):
Sunday 29 December      5 pm

Tickets for White Rock Hotel are available from Brown Paper Tickets:
Family ticket £36 (2 adults & 2 kids, or 1 adult & 3 kids) 

For modern Scrooges, the tickets are cheaper in Robertsbridge, from Robertsbridge Arts Partnership.

It was Bob Marley not Jacob who popularised the concept of the Redemption Song. A Penny Pincher’s Christmas Carol qualifies as that too. Happy Christmas.


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Posted 19:36 Thursday, Dec 19, 2019 In: Performance

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