Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – until 29 December 2019
Guest reviewer: Angelos Spantideas
Taking inspiration from the English literature Christmas classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit follow teenage Timothy though his attempt to define his individuality and prove to the world, and most importantly to the himself, that despite his mobility issues he is still capable to achieve his dreams.
Timothy’s curiosity for the world get ignited when visiting the Great Exhibition, which opens his eyes to the beauties of the world and urge him to leave his security and his uncle’s house to venture in the world and prove his worth. Paul Greenwood as Timothy’s uncle Scrooge succeeds in depicting the stress and fear that come along with being a child’s guardian. His explosive character shows the insecurity of letting a young boy with a handicapped leg be exposed to the dangers and the adversities of society, from which he has been sheltered his whole life. Scrooge’s character also does not fail to show the selfishness of parenthood and the dismay of accepting that a parent is not needed anymore, and a once young child is now becoming a man.
Ryan Kopel as Timothy fits the role incredibly, as he manages to illustrate the youthful and innocent nature of adolescence and wins the audience from the very beginning. His character development is obvious with Timothy by the end of the show being a confident young man, who has succeeded into chasing his dreams and has overcome his physical obstacles. His singing resonates with the worries of any young person who makes a leap of faith to find themselves and proves how emotion can be communicated though music.
In Timothy’s life the prevalent female figure Lucy, portrayed by Sammy Graham, shows a strong woman who even though does not seem to have achieved a lot shows real strength and tenacity and is a main figure of support. Lucy appears in Timothy’s life when he moves in his new accommodation and stays as discreet presence till, he eventually succeeds.
The circus group which Timothy eventually joins, becomes a major part of his journey with the group’s leader Grimaldi becoming his mentor and the rest of the group his companions which manage to add excitement and comedy to the musical.
The contribution of the musicians is significant, adding a lot to the experience of this musical. Lastly, the brilliance of Helen Pearson playing the roles of Mrs Linden and Mrs Poole, is apparent from how effortlessly she is able to transform from a sweet and reserved housemaid a the hilarious and explosive landlord.
The small theatre creates an intimate experience with the audience being immersed into Timothy’s world with the cast acting and singing directly in front of them. The set is uncomplicated with quick adjustments and simple prop changes to signal the change of scenes. The double mirrors around the stage create opportunities to play with the lighting and change the character of the set quickly depending on the needs of every scene. With powerful performances and a vibrant cast, The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit creates an entertaining musical filled with laughter which is perfectly complemented by the Christmas atmosphere and the hope that the new year will bring an opportunity for each to find their place in the world, exactly like Timothy.
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