An unusual take on the world’s most loved Christmas story reaches Swindon Arts Centre at the beginning of December.

The Dickens Theatre Co production of A Christmas Carol is set in 1866.

Louise Faulkner, pictured on our cover, and Ryan Philpott play actress Frances Ternan and stage manager George Dolby, who must tackle all the roles in a stage version of the tale because the rest of the company are stuck on a train.

Among the roles taken by Louise as Frances are Ebenezer Scrooge, while those taken by East Enders veteran Ryan, pictured here, as George include the miser’s dead business partner, Jacob Marley.

It is the second version of A Christmas Carol devised by Ryan, who played police officer Kenny Morris in the Albert Square soap.

He said: “In 2014 I was employed by Medway Council in Kent to write a script, telling the story of Dickens life, and then perform it on a bus.

“That went well, so the next year they wanted A Christmas Carol.

“I phoned around all the pro-actors, musicians and directors that I knew and hacked away at the original novella and came up with my version.

“It was candle-lit and authentically Victorian. We established then and there a style where the cast not only play many roles, but also that we are always immersed in the mid-19th century. The hats, the coats, the manners, all of it.

“Even our Macbeth has a Dickensian feel to it. Although we have grown our repertoire, we have continued to produce A Christmas Carol every year.

“Although this 2019 version, is a quite different from that first one.”

The differences?

A major one is that there are only two actors, while the first had six.

“But secondly, we have a female Scrooge. And Louise Faulkner, who has been with us since the first A Christmas Carol in 2015, is incredible.

“It really works. She also plays all the female roles too. I then play everyone else.

“It’s a really great show and very early on the audience get how the show works, and so very soon they have bought in to our world and are rooting for Scrooge to reach his redemption.”

A Christmas Carol has been the subject of countless stage and screen adaptations including musicals, cartoon versions and, in 1992, The Muppet Christmas Carol.

According to Ryan, the core morals of the story remain as relevant as ever more than 175 years on.

“When Dickens wrote it, he knocked it out in a matter of weeks with a disgruntled publisher cracking the deadline whip.

“The success was phenomenal that year - 1843 - and it continues to be so today.

“There are two sides to it. Firstly, there is the social message. Dickens was inspired by the plight of the very poor to create the Cratchit family. They embody everything that is good about the world, despite having nothing.

“Then there’s the story of the grumpy old man. We can all relate to him, whether we know his like or whether we behave like him ourselves.

“A Christmas Carol works as a warning to all of us.

“At the most basic level, Scrooge’s redemption reminds us of our own self-importance and tells us to simply look up, smile and say hello!”

A Christmas Carol will be at the Arts Centre on Monday and Tuesday, December 2 and 3.

There will be evening performances at 7.45pm and 1.30pm matinees.

Tickets cost £15 with concessions available, and for school parties every 11th ticket is free.

Call 01793 524481 or visit