Free Reading A Christmas Carol (Audio Download): Charles Dickens, R. D. Carstairs - adaptation, Sir Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Cranham, Miriam Margolyes, Jenna Coleman, Brendan Coyle, Roger Allam, Audible Studios: Audible AudiobooksAuthor Charles Dickens –

Very well read and presented. If I had my way, every idiot who goes around with Merry Christmas on his lips, would be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart Merry Christmas Bah humbug Charles Dickens ghostly tale of sour and stingy miser Ebenezer Scrooge has captivated readers, listeners and audiences for overyears This Christmas, Audible Studios brings this story to life in an audio drama featuring an all star cast Starring Sir Derek Jacobi as Dickens, Kenneth Cranham as Ebenezer Scrooge, Roger Allam as Jacob Marley, Brendan Coyle as The Ghost Of Christmas Past, Miriam Margolyes as The Ghost Of Christmas Present, Tim Mcinnerny as The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come, Jamie Glover as Bob Cratchit, Emily Bruni as Mrs Cratchit, Jenna Coleman as Belle, Joshua James as Young Scrooge And Hugh Skinner as Fred Great It s been my habit for many years to revisit Dickens best known Christmas story over the festive season each year Sometimes this will be for a re read but in recent years I ve been enjoying some of the many adaptations of it in film or on audio This year I went for Audible s full cast dramatisation, having enjoyed several of their other productions in recent months I knew going in that it had some great competition to beat Patrick Stewart s abridged narration has been my go to for years, and Tom Baker s unabridged version is up there at the same standard But this one has Derek Jacobi as Dickens the narrator, and anyone who s read my reviews will know I am a huge fan of his audio narrationsThis follows the pattern Audible have been using for their Original Drama series of being part narration, part dramatisation I love this approach The dramatised elements make it a livelier listen which holds my attention better than even excellent straight narrations sometimes do, while the narrated bits allow for the depth and background that sometimes gets lost when a book is reduced to only dialogue in a full scale dramatisation It allows the listener to hear the author s voice come through in the writing which, especially when the author is as brilliant as Dickens, is an essential.Jacobi is undoubtedly the star of this production, having by far the biggest role as narrator of the linking pieces between the relatively sparse dialogue He is excellent, of course, but not having the chance to create any of the wonderfully larger than life characters meant I felt his talents were a tiny bit wasted Personally I d have preferred him to be performing Scrooge, especially since I felt Kenneth Cranham s performance in the role was a little too understated for my taste However that s purely a subjective opinion I love the big, booming, overblown performances of Stewart and Baker, but Cranham s quieter interpretation may work better for many people The division between narrator and main character in this dramatisation leaves Cranham with a far smaller role than either Stewart or Baker, since they have the fun of creating their own dramatic interpretation of the non dialogue parts too.All the other performances are good, with no weak links in the chain The standouts for me are Jamie Glover as Bob Cratchit and Miriam Margolyes as The Ghost of Christmas Present Glover s Cratchit is less down trodden than he is sometimes portrayed, somehow I can t quite put my finger on why, exactly, since as far as my not always reliable memory could confirm there were no changes to the words Dickens gives him But Glover s performance conveyed him to me as a strong, good humoured man, limited by his poverty, but not broken by his miserly, bullying boss or the circumstances of his life I enjoyed him very much.Margolyes is an old hand at Dickens, not just appearing in many of the BBC serialisations over the decades, but also having performed in her one woman show, Dickens Women, for some years a wonderful performance that s also available on audio and which I highly recommend So she gets him, and is not afraid to exploit the huge emotional range he allows to those who perform his work For me, a successful Dickens performance is when I can imagine it might be done as he himself would have delivered it at one of his famous readings, and Margolyes is one of those actors who always achieves this She frightened me and moved me when she talked of Ignorance and Want I believed utterly that she meant every terrible, warning word, sadly as relevant today as when Dickens wrote them They are Man s, said the Spirit, looking down upon them And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers This boy is Ignorance This girl is Want Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased Deny it If the adaptation by RD Carstairs is abridged at all, it must be very lightly I noticed nothing missing and the running time is similar to an unabridged narration It may be that there are minor changes to the order of some parts there s quite a lot of quick cutting between Jacobi s narration and Scrooge s inner thoughts as delivered by Cranham that worked very effectively to bring the two parts together But there are certainly no significant changes to either tone or meaning and all the words, I think, are Dickens own.So, in conclusion, a hugely enjoyable dramatisation which, while it might not quite have replaced Stewart or Baker as my favourite audio version, is certainly up there in contention with them Highly recommended 4 stars for me, so rounded up. Well read thank you Downloaded this for free from audible great acting, lovely tale and set me top for the big day well Spend a happy couple of hours driving from Newcastle to Edinburgh and was sorry when I arrived and cut it short.Reminds me of when my Gran used to ready this to me as a child almost captures that magic, and I m now 51 Happy Christmas great version of this classic Really enjoyed this and very good, once began listening to it I could not stop.