A Theatre Visit From The Ghost Of Christmas Past

The Iris

By Kelly Craig

A ghost of Christmas past will be treading the Ayrshire boards this festive season when Prestwick
Actor, Ken O’Hara, brings Charles Dickens to life in A Christmas Carol, touring Ayrshire throughout

This one-man performance, adapted by Greg Oliver Bodine, is a stunning rendition of the classic story. Ken, a Dickens fan, is animated as he tells me of how he met the writer of the adaptation in New York a few years ago and decided to bring this special piece of theatre home to Ayrshire. Bodine cleverly adapted A Christmas Carol based on Charles Dickens’ American reading tour in December 1867 when Dickens arrived at a Boston Theatre to perform his reading of A Christmas Carol. However, his props and costume had been lost in New York. He apologised and continued with the performance, stating, ‘A story is what you were promised and a story is what you shall have!’.

A story is what Ken will be bringing to Ayrshire audiences this winter as he delivers a spectacle with 18 different characters. Fascinated by the works of Dickens, Ken delivers a dynamic take on Dickens’ creations bringing characters like Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchett and Ebenezer Scrooge to life. I asked him about the process of learning not one but a whole catalogue of characters. He tells me that it has taken him around six months to learn the dialogue and get into the bones of each character. Ken goes on to portray a variety of them in front of my eyes. His skilful depiction is delivered with ease and I feel like I’ve stepped into 19th century London. Not only does he sound remarkably like Dickens, his meticulous costume design leaves out no detail and his transformation is remarkable. The set, he tells me, is simple but reminiscent of the opulence of a 19th century American theatre, quite the contrast from the living conditions of some of the characters that made Dickens’ work so famous.

I’ve no doubt this will attract a sell-out audience. Ken is a well-known face locally, a talented musician and a gifted artist, there is no end to his talents. You may have danced along to his music in a local venue or bought one of his paintings, but he is probably best known locally as a teacher. He was deputy head at an Ayr primary school until he took early retirement in 2016 and went back to his performing roots, setting up M.A.D. Productions. A bold step in later life but one that has paid off for him as he tells me that he has never been busier. It’s delightful to see local talent supported onto our stages in Ayrshire.

An experienced production team brings this to the stage. Ken joins forces with Director Isi Nimmo, another Ayrshire native who is RADA trained and boasts a successful 30-year career behind the scenes in the West End and South Coast. Isi is delighted to be working with Ken again after a successful run of Catherine Czerkawska’s The Price of a Fish Supper, a play set locally about the decline of the fishing industry and the impact it had on those who dedicated their lives to it. It’s clear that Ken loves telling stories on stage, and a story that was written 179 years ago but still holds relevance today should be your must see this festive season.

Poignantly, A Christmas Carol opens on the 2nd December 2022, the same day, albeit 155 years later, that Charles Dickens opened his reading tour in America. It will run in venues throughout the month until 18th December.

Visit www.kensmad.com for dates, times and tickets.

Bio – Kelly Craig is a writer and director based in Ayr. She writes plays and short films and is a Director of The Iris, an Ayrshire based community arts organisation. Kelly is passionate about the positive impact that theatre and storytelling can have on people’s lives.