Your Christmas Carol Experience

"...a pureness that permeates the experience"

Your Christmas Carol Experience: A New Immersive Adventure is a brief and intimate encounter shared among 10 audience members, as they go from room to room and meet various spirits that have taken on corporeal forms.

There is no Scrooge, as audience members are meant to be the protagonists of this experience. However, after meeting the Time Keeper (Romer), the audience hears a man speaking to them, presumably Jacob Marley, which suggests there is a pre-existing narrative and character to be taken on by the audience that is not deeply personal and unique to them. 

The overall journey follows the general structure of the original story: Introduction (with the Time Keeper), Jacob Marley, Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, Ghost of Christmas Future, Farewell. 

It is charming to see how much of this intimate venue's nooks and crannies are utilised to demarcate these sections; to meet the Ghost of Christmas Present (Andrew Phoenix), audiences are led by a silent Lantern Bearer (Emma-May Uden) through a gravelly backyard lit only by moonlight, to reach a shed that has been decorated with lush red curtains, a cosy rug, photo frames and a Christmas tree.

For an immersive experience, the details are what truly sells the experience. There are still several ways in which director Kelsey Yuhara and designer Lili Fuller enhance this particular world even further, to make each environment feel more coherent. 

For example, although the show is not meant to be set in Victorian times, the first character we meet is dressed for that period. It might be a reference to Doctor Who, but the Dickensian associations are much stronger and there is no Sonic Screwdriver. 

The room with Ghosts of Christmas Past (Yuxuan Liu, Noah Silverstone and Ashlee McIntosh) provide cards with prompts on them that are handwritten in colourful markers. While this is a cute nod to preschool days, the choice of font and stationery feel more modern than the setting, therefore presenting a slight clash of ideas.

Similarly, certain conceptual elements can be further simplified. Why is the Spirit of the Present blindfolded? When he entertains the audience, his aide (Hannah Hawkins) moves presents in and out of the space, but this action is never fully integrated into the story. 

The Spirit of the Future (Mahalakshmi) and Spirit of the Now (Sofia Zaragoza) share a carolling duet, followed by Now leaving abruptly. Now returns at the end to ask if anyone has taken anything from the Time Keeper, but this question is quickly dismissed with no explanation whatsoever. 

All this being said, the entire experience of Your Christmas Carol Experience: A New Immersive Adventure is grounded by a sincere and innocent core. There is a pureness that permeates the experience, from the type of prompts (e.g. "What is your favourite object from your childhood?"), to the simplicity of a guessing game, and the allure of candles lit in the dark. As such, it would be rather interesting to see how this experience is received by children, if the project is packaged as a family-oriented experience. After all, isn't this the true heart of A Christmas Carol?

This experience was reviewed at The Space, London on the 22nd December 2023.

Review written by Vic Chen

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