Casting announced for A Christmas Carol, which plays in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre this winter.

Adrian Edmondson will play Ebenezer Scrooge in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s revival of David Edgar’s adaptation of Dickens’ much-loved classic story A Christmas Carol.  The production, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, runs in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon between 26 October 2022 – 1 January 2023.

Talking about A Christmas CarolAdrian Edmondson said:

“A Christmas Carol in an extraordinary book. It’s been in print continuously since 1843.  So it must be saying something very important that catches our imagination. A lot of people think it’s about Scrooge and ghosts, which of course it is, but at the heart of it, it’s about poverty and our individual reaction to it. So it couldn’t be more relevant today than it has been in the past 30-40 years. Not since rationing really. Actual poverty in our streets. People at food banks. That’s the driving force of it for Dickens.  He’d read a report on poverty and was considering writing this as a dry pamphlet, but wrote it as a story because he thought it would connect more. And, of course, it does. So it’s hard to find a play that’s more relevant, especially one you might enjoy.

“I’m really looking forward to playing Scrooge. Why, you might ask, would you watch a show about a really horrible person? You watch it because you’re cheering him on, urging him to become a better person. You’re on his side, you want him to turn. I think that makes him one of the most fundamentally interesting characters in literature, and a great part to play.”

Adrian returns to the RSC after making his debut as Malvolio in Twelfth Night in 2017.  His other theatre credits include: The Rocky Horror Show (Piccadilly Theatre), Waiting for Godot (Queens Theatre), Bits of Me Are Falling Apart (Soho Theatre), The Boy Friend (Menier Chocolate Factory) and Once Upon A Time in Nazi Occupied Tunisia (Almeida).

TV credits include: The Young Ones, The Comic Strip Presents…, Bottom, Blackadder, War & Peace, Bancroft, Save Me, Cheat, Out of Her Mind, Back To Life, Summer of Rockets, One of Us, Upstart Crow and A Spy Among Friends.  Film credits include: Supergrass, The Pope Must Die, Guesthouse Paradiso and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Joining Adrian is Sunetra Sarker who makes her RSC debut as The Ghost of Christmas Present.  Sunetra is a stalwart of British TV and is best known for a nearly ten year stint as Dr Zoe Hanna on BBC’s Casualty, three series of Channel Four’s No Angels, and currently as Kaneez Parach in Ackley Bridge, also for Channel Four. She reached the latter stages of Strictly Come Dancing in 2014, was the subject of Who Do You Think You Are? in 2017,and is currently a regular panellist on ITV’s Loose Women.

Sunetra’s other TV credits include: Desperate Measures, Sherwood, The Bay, Cold Feet, Informer, Hang Ups, Broadchurch, Safe House, Death in Paradise, Puppy Love, Doctor Who, Mobile, New Street Law, The Chase, Ideal, The Smoking Room, Eyes Down, City Life: Bloody Foreigners, Emmerdale, Streetlife, Playing The Field, Miller Shorts, Starting Out, London Bridge, Wing and A Prayer, Flight, Cracker, Bhangra Girls, Bread and Brookside.  Her stage credits include: House of the Sun, One Night (Stratford East), Tale of Two Cities (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and The God Botherers (Bush Theatre) 

David Edgar’s socially-conscious adaptation of Dickens’ classic fable opened in 2017 to critical acclaim in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where it played to sell-out audiences. The production was revived the following year due to audience demand.

This festive tale of redemption and compassion follows cold-hearted businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, who – over the course of one ghostly Christmas night – learns to pity himself and to love his neighbour – but is that enough?

The full cast is: Beth Alsbury (Hinge), Lauren Arney (Belinda), Sally Cheng (Isabel), Eamonn Cox (Swing), Rachel Denning (Mrs Baldock), Adrian Edmondson (Ebenezer Scrooge), Gavin Fowler (Charles Dickens), Clive Hayward (Fezziwig), Jack Humphrey (Tim), Beruce Khan (John Forster), Rebecca Lacey (The Ghost of Christmas Past), Bethany Linsdell (Caroline), Michael Lyle (Father), Alexander Moneypenny (Swing), Conor O’Hara (Swing), Emma Pallant (Mrs Cratchit), Joseph Prowen (Fred), Sunetra Sarker (The Ghost of Christmas Present), Rachel Seirian (Swing), Oliver Senton (Uber), Mitesh Soni (Bob Cratchit), Liyah Summers (Fanny), Giles Taylor (Marley) and Georgie Westall (Swing).

David Edgar has been writing plays professionally since 1971. As one of the UK’s greatest living playwrights, David’s rich history with the RSC spans over four decades making him the company’s most produced living writer to date. 

His original plays for the RSC include: Destiny (1976); Maydays (1983, revived in a new version in 2018 directed by Owen Horsley); Pentecost (1994, transferring to the Young Vic, London, 1995); The Prisoner’s Dilemma (2001); Written on the Heart (2011, transferring to the Duchess Theatre, London, 2012); and A Christmas Carol, his first Dickens adaptation since the multi-award winning production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby in 1980, which premiered at the Aldwych Theatre before transferring to Broadway in 1981 where it went on to win The Society of West End Theatre and Tony award for ‘Best Play’. In 2019, David wrote and performed his one-man solo show Trying It On, which toured to the Birmingham Rep, the RSC’s The Other Place, the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs and the Traverse Theatre during the 2019 Edinburgh Festival, and on tour.

Talking about A Christmas Carol, David Edgar said:

“In 1843, Dickens read a parliamentary report on the conditions of children in the mines and factories of what was aptly called the Hungry Forties, and resolved to write an angry political pamphlet, to be published that Christmas, calling for reform. By the end of the year he’d produced not a tract but a universal story of how benevolence is stronger than greed. I wanted to put Dickens and his ambitions in the foreground of the adaptation. In Rachel Kavanaugh’s wonderful production – combining a glorious set with dazzling choreography and musical score – we see Dickens construct his story before our very eyes. 

“When we premiered the show in 2017, millions were already relying on food banks and beggars haunted city streets. Covid and the cost of living crisis have made economic inequality – and raw poverty – an even more pressing reality. And yet – in the way the nation came together around the NHS to combat the pandemic – we have been reminded of the selflessness and generosity of spirit which lies at the heart of Dickens’ enduringly optimistic story.”

A Christmas Carol is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis with lighting by Tim Mitchell. Music is by Catherine Jayes, Sound Design by Fergus O’Hare with Movement by Georgina Lamb.