The story of Ebenezer Scrooge, described by Charles Dickens as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner”, opens Thursday at Stockholm’s Maxim Theatre and director Pernilla Isedal couldn’t be more excited.
“When it comes to A Christmas Carol I know it inside out and backwards,” she tells The Local.
Isedal has been at the helm of the play for the past four Christmases in Stockholm and her involvement stretches back to 1988, when she took part as a 19-year-old actor at the city’s Regina Theatre.
But since becoming the director in 2009, she’s adapted the story to be “even more English” and re-adapted the play from the previous version by the English Theatre Company.
“They had simplified the language. I think they were worried the Swedish audience wouldn’t grasp everything in the story. But I’ve realized that the audience gets so much,” she says.
“I think that now it’s closer to Dickens than ever.”
Adding to the mostly British cast, Isedal has also employed the talents of ten Swedish children – all of whom can sing, dance and act – and most importantly – do it while speaking English like a native.
With a few international kids among the Swedes, Isedal admits that there has been a little tweaking:
“But it worked. Sometimes you can hear a twang, but we’re really pleased”.
Dickens, who was born exactly 200 years ago, wrote the classic novel in 1843 and published it for Christmas.
Englishman and newly-settled Gothenburg resident James Hogg is playing the show’s narrator, and explains that the show also remains a favourite due to its relevance.
“The show is still tremendously popular,” he says.
“In a time like now when people are a bit shorter of money than they have been and there’s a slight hatred towards bankers, people can really relate to it.”
Meanwhile, Londoner Ted Merwood is thrilled to be taking on what he considers to be one of the most iconic characters in English history – Mr. Bah Humbug himself – Ebenezer Scrooge.
“You can keep your King Lear and Hamlets,” he tells The Local.
“I don’t know if there’s another part that goes from ‘orrible old bastard to everybody’s friend like Scrooge does. It’s a parable for any time, it’s iconic, it’s still popular 150 years on but I think people will still be reading it and watching it in another 150 years.”
Merwood, who is playing Scrooge for the first time, explains that the show has now become a fixture on the Stockholm Christmas scene.
“The audiences have built up, and are getting better and better. Word is getting around that it’s really rather good.”
“We’re not rehashing a show to make a bit of money, there is great affection here, and I think it really shows.”
A Christmas Carol runs from December 6th to 23rd at the Maxim Theatre. Tickets available via the official site below.