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Ghosts of past, present, and future return to lift Christmas spirits

Culture

A Christmas tradition indeed as shake & stir’s A Christmas Carol returns to QPAC for the fourth year running, with Eugene Gilfedder once again portraying Christmas’s most formidable miser Ebenezer Scrooge.

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The production, which began in 2018, has become something of a cultural tradition in Brisbane with the award-winning play returning to QPAC’s Playhouse.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been told countless times since its creation in 1843, and follows Ebenezer Scrooge on the eve of Christmas, wrapt in his misery.

He is visited by four ghosts who take him through Christmas past, present, and future in an attempt to help him find redemption from his greed and selfishness.

The play, which was written almost 200 years ago and has undergone a huge amount of adaptations across every medium, provides a relevant warning about the consequences of the actions which propel you into the future.

“Dickens tries to say that people should be aware of history, have their eyes open to what’s going on right now in front of them, so they can have concerns about what both the past and the present are leading to into the future,” said acclaimed actor Eugene Gilfedder, who returns as Scrooge.

“If everyone is aware of those things, and they open their eyes, they may be more inclined to charitable and empathetic feelings.

“Dickens was obviously talking about the very cruel dark side of the Industrial Revolution as he himself used to stick labels onto bottles in a factory as a young boy.

“It is a lesson to see what’s happened in the past and what is going on in the present, to try and make decisions about the future and ensure your actions are the best ones to make.”

A Christmas Carol production at QPAC (Image: David Fell)

The production returns with a longer run than last year, seeing Gilfedder act alongside a supporting cast including Ross Balbuziente, Eli Bunyoung, Salliana Campbell, Arnijka Larcombe-Weate, Nelle Lee, Bryan Probets, and Nick Skubij.

“shake & stir weren’t sure at the time how successful it might be. Last year, we put it on at the Lyric Theatre because we thought that everyone would have to sit far apart but then the restrictions were removed so they actually had the job of filling the Lyric Theatre, which we did,” said Gilfedder.

“The first time I heard the audience coming in, I immediately heard children laughing and that did something for me. I really liked the production and its purpose. I felt that we were reaching out to a very broad audience.

“We want people to come in and feel elated and hopefully inspired, then we’ve done our job.

“The appearance of ghosts, particularly the last ghost of the future, I remember the kids crying out partly of fear but also excitement. Director Michael Futcher is a man that I’ve known for decades, and we’ve worked so many times together and he is brilliant at getting the balance right.”

The shake & stir production is known for its intricate sets, live music and video, Gilfedder said amongst this his role as an actor is to bring something new to Scrooge.

“The production is quite complicated, with a spectacular set that moves around everywhere, and video and sound that works with on a very grand scale.

“We approach the show to make sure we’re making it fresh, we are rethinking it and not just sitting on the laurels of the first production. That is my concern every time I would come back to this but I would concentrate on making it new and rediscovering it so that it is never a stale production.”

A Christmas Carol opens at QPAC’s Playhouse Theatre on 2 December and runs until 24 December. 

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