It’s almost 180 years since St George’s Hall was built – and just a few years later Charles Dickens would publish A Christmas Carol, perhaps his most enduring novel. Set amid the catacombs, cells and Victorian corridors of the neo-classical building, The Ghosts of Christmas Past combines the Christmas novel featuring Ebenezer Scrooge and three ghosts with cameos from some of Dickens’ other creations.
This isn’t Lovehistory and St George’s Hall‘s first collaboration (nor is it Dickens’ – he gave several readings here), the immersive theatre company produces Murder at St George’s Hall and Catacombs of Liverpool’s Darkest History in the venue. The less familiar, semi-private corners of the building feel like they could have been built for the purpose.
The Small Concert Room, Minton Pavement and Crown Courts may get all the glory, but St George’s Hall is a warren of curiosities, more and more of which are being brought back to life by productions such as The Ghosts of Christmas Past.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past takes guests through a tour of the building, some of Charles Dickens’ best-known characters and adds a dash of context to the Victorian world the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge, Miss Haversham and Bill Sykes inhabited – and reveals that not all were as fictional as you might think.
While we see plenty of famous scenes from A Christmas Carol – namely Scrooge’s encounters with Marley, the three ghosts and his epiphany on Christmas morning – there are electrifying vignettes from a ghostly Miss Haversham and threatening Bill Sykes, seemingly spectral and wandering the bowels of St George’s Hall in search of his faithful bulldog, Bullseye.
Set largely in the lonely, shadowy runs of the building’s air-conditioning systems, whitewashed cells and antechambers it makes for a chilling experience. It’s not just the clanking chains and looming apparitions but the madness and misogyny of the guest appearances are a stark reminder of just how dark so much of Dickens’ work – and Victorian Britain – was.
But ultimately there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour and Scrooge’s redemption is infectious. God knows in these strange days we could all do with a little of the true meaning of Christmas.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past
St George’s Hall, Heritage Centre Entrance
Monday 4 – Wednesday 13 December 2017
Times: 6:00pm / 7:00pm / 8:00pm