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A Christmas Carol review – festive classic gets a British Sign Language update


Hull Truck theatre, Hull
Scrooge not only exploits Bob Cratchit but cruelly cuts him out of the conversation in this innovative, satisfying production

Jack Lord is the meanest of Scrooges. Too parsimonious even to expend energy on movement, he crosses the stage with glacial economy. It is as if he has audited his muscles and rationed their use. Standing at his ledger, he turns the pages with stingy restraint. For him to talk to Bob Cratchit (Adam Bassett) in his employee’s own language would take a level of generosity he does not possess.

For Cratchit, the modest hero of the Charles Dickens favourite, is a British Sign Language user – a man doubly wronged by a boss who has not only left him impoverished, but also excluded him from conversation. It is not that Scrooge cannot sign; his night-time return to Christmas Past shows his younger self using BSL with his sister and his fiancee. Rather, it is a facility he hoards like his money; one that benefits no one.

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