A Christmas Carol - As told by Jaob Marley (deceased)
"A Christmas Carol – As Told By Jacob Marley (Deceased) is a clever one-man show that finishes not with a festive flourish but rather with a dose of pathos that I had never considered before... the production was unique in more ways than one. I have never seen a live one-man show before. I’m used to colourful sets, transitioning scenes and actors bouncing off each other but this had none of those things and was better for it... From the moment Marley was ejected through the curtains and out of the bowels of hell, James portrayed everything else we needed. He shifted seamlessly from Marley to Scrooge while skillfully playing three types of ghost and everyone in between. The transitions between characters were quite masterful actually and whether it was an energetic leap to a new stage position or a nuanced change of stance, the audience was expertly guided through the narrative. As we drove home my wife said she felt like she was watching a man possessed as James shifted through characters. I had to agree, the physical performance was exceptional... It was a great way to kick start to the festive season. A classic story performed superbly from an actor who has great affection for a character that wants nothing more than to convey a very heartfelt message. Superb."
~Craig Wishart, CUMBRIA GUIDE
"The audience is spellbound; Hyland has hooked us in with his magnetic solo performance without the need for props, music or supporting actors. In an age of technology, the power of storytelling takes over and firmly grabs our attention... I really enjoyed the performance and can see why it has been recognised by the Queen for its Dickensian scholarship."
~Marisa Laycock, ST ALBANS REVIEW
"Brother Wolf’s one man show, performed by James Hyland, is a unique adaptation, which brings a fresh and alternative edge to A Christmas Carol... Hyland’s immense presence and physicality is evident from the moment he steps onto the stage, with every movement carefully thought out and meaningfully placed with solid intention. Hyland tells the story of A Christmas Carol by physically morphing into each character, with separate mannerisms, voices and quips. The changes are fast, demanding and convincing, with entertaining methods of conveying height, personality and differences in physicality... His performance is full of immense energy which keeps the audience engaged and interested throughout... the production is entertaining and an impressive feat of physical storytelling from a talented solo performer."
~Katie Walsh, A YOUNGER THEATRE
"On a bare stage set with just a chair and to the sound of the bells striking the hour, Hyland appears... He divests himself of his chains to introduce us to the character of Scrooge—whom he then takes on with just a turn of his body—and the story begins, with Hyland transforming into each character from Bob Cratchit through fiancée Belle to Tiny Tim and all the Spirits of Christmas in between with a mere turn of his head, a different stance and another accent...there is plenty to draw you into this well-observed and crafted production and every effort is made to convey atmosphere and emotion, especially in the scenes at Bob Cratchit’s house with Tiny Tim which brought a lump to many a throat in the audience... Hyland is an extremely powerful presence on stage with a rich voice that he uses to great effect. Within 75 minutes, he creates the world Dickens wrote about with skill and precision and in doing so took us with him on Scrooge’s journey of remorse and redemption... there is no doubt this is a masterful performance of this iconic tale, which drew us into Dickens’s world and sent us home with a tear in our eye and a cry on our lips: "God bless us everyone."
~Suzanne Hawkes, BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE
"this is highly compelling and riveting theatre. The pacing is excellent, steady and assured. Stamping its own authority on such a well-known story, a large number of characters are voiced, and acted, convincingly – and seemingly effortlessly. It is no mean feat to go from ‘being’ Bob Cratchit to Scrooge to Tiny Tim. A subtle breaching of the fourth wall, one of those that doesn’t actually require any audience participation (if, like me, you can’t stand audience participation in anything other than at a panto or a post-Curtain Call encore at a big musical, please be reassured), gives an added layer of engagement to this family-friendly play... A solid and faithful rendering of a famous story, retaining a freshness and vibrancy from start to finish... This is good old-fashioned storytelling at its best. The ending proved incredibly haunting, and there were echoes of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where the father ghost figure implores his son to remember him. Here, the line is, “Remember what has passed between us this night!” That won’t be difficult. This is indeed a memorable and astonishing production."
~Chris Omaweng, LONDON THEATRE 1
"James Hyland plays Marley with stunning conviction... it is the production's minimal set, consisting of a chair, and the overall one-act performance that makes it visual and enthralling. Something that many one-act plays have failed to achieve... it gracefully captivates the audience in wanting more, waiting till the very end. The play runs for seventy-five minutes, but it does fly by and the production goes very well with the oppressive cold weather waiting for the spectators outside. Another great performance and a Christmas treat for anyone looking for an entertaining piece of theatre with a feel-good ending."
Rating: FIVE STARS
~Jason D. Brawn, DARK FICTION WRITER
"It's not often an actor can mesmerise an entire audience on his own. But James Hyland has the gift. His incredible one-man performance of 'A Christmas Carol - As told by Jacob Marley (deceased)' stunned an audience at the Sheppey Little Theatre into silence... This was heart-in-the-mouth theatre in its finest form as he delivered line after faultless line of perfect prose brought to life with exquisite detail and the cleverest of subtle mime."
~John Nurden, SHEERNESS TIME GUARDIAN
"A Christmas Carol- As told by Jacob Marley (Deceased) is a tremendous achievement... writer and sole actor James Hyland brings an energy and emotional range which reignites the charm of the original story... Where many one man shows fall down, Hyland thrives, moving between roles with a fluency and depth of character which is a wonder to watch... This production shows Hyland to be a rare phenomenon—a virtuoso performer who has mastered the one man show, able to write act and produce at the highest level. I look forward to seeing his other solo acts in the near future."
~Tom Dillon, PLAYS TO SEE
"[One of] The top Christmas shows in London, Edinburgh and around the UK... A Christmas Carol, as Charles Dickens intended it... [James Hyland] impressively channels the ghost’s tormented soul and slips seamlessly into the characters of Scrooge and the trio of spirits... Imaginative and captivating... a truly intense experience."
~Kirstie Brewer, HIGH 50 CULTURE
"CHRISTMAS came early to Ffwrnes as a Christmas Carol was told... The show was brought to life with an incredible one man performance by James Hyland... a unique telling of this timeless tale... He gave what can best be described as a master class in acting as he enthralled the audience from start to finish."
"James Hyland received a Fringe Report Award for Best Performer in Theatre and was nominated for a London Theatre Award in 2012 for this production - and deservedly so... James Hyland plays a plethora of characters in his thrilling one-man show. He switches effortlessly from the frightened Scrooge to the gigantic and powerful Ghost of Christmas Present only to become Tiny Tim a few seconds later. Hyland's versatility and physicality are astounding. The show is fast-paced and exciting and keeps the audience on their toes... James Hyland's impressive performance creates a whole world on an empty stage, populated by dozens of characters: Old men, young men, portly men, thin men, giants, spirits, women, children... The audience rewarded him with a standing ovation."
~Carolin Kopplin, UK THEATRE NETWORK
"Hyland’s award-winning one-man show delivers, in a masterful storytelling style, the age-old tale... Throughout the production, Hyland’s stage presence is undeniable... His fine narrative style is rooted somewhere between monologue and mimicry, where the subtleties of each separate adult, child and ghost blend and blur perfectly through the motions of Hyland’s body and voice. Each persona is distinct... Hyland becomes almost mesmerising, enveloping the audience in the tale as much through his acting as the narrative itself. 'A Christmas Carol – As told By Jacob Marley (Deceased)' is a production which enthrals at every point. Dickens’s Christmas classic is brought quite literally to life by Hyland... The deceased and oft forgotten Jacob Marley has never before been so alive."
~Katie Angus, A YOUNGER THEATRE
"Performer James Hyland is wonderful as Marley and as everyone else – he puts on the voices and mannerisms of all of the characters, creating a compelling performance... Performing as the deceased Marley adds another dimension to the story, as we contrast the happy ending of Scrooge’s story with the eternal torment of Marley, who was not allowed a chance at redemption. The result is a darker version than usual with an unsettling ending – a hugely worthwhile piece."
~LOITERING IN THE THEATRE
"a forcefully compelling masterpiece... [Hyland] triumphantly infused the story with fresh life. Emotionally raw and at times blackly comical, his performance was outstanding... When Hyland took his closing bow, he was accompanied by appreciative whistles, cheers and a standing ovation."
~Fiona McKenna, THE MANX INDEPENDENT
"For 75 minutes of Berkoffian physical theatre and riveting acting, you’d be hard put to beat this fine one-man show... stunning voice work... Hyland can create a character - such as Scrooge’s cheery nephew Fred before reverting to Scrooge - with the merest shift of a shoulder or foot... Hyland’s howling as a grieving Bob Cratchit is unforgettable."
~Susan Elkin, THE STAGE
"such riveting entertainment... Hyland had the audience gripped... Characters were brought vividly to life through his dramatic actions and facial expressions, evoking all the emotion film makers spend months and millions of pounds to recreate... What worked so beautifully was the use of Marley as the storyteller... the juxtaposition between the fate of [Scrooge and Marley] leads you to question your own life... A powerful, thought provoking, and in many ways, definitive telling of A Christmas Carol."
~Ian Dipple, REDDITCH STANDARD
"an astonishingly powerful performance... Hyland does this with chilling passion and, at times, humour and in recounting the story takes on the mantle of each character with alarming precision. He gives what can only be described as a breathtaking performance... The whole production rested on the sheer talent of James Hyland and really was a testament to his stage presence and extraordinary acting and storytelling talent."
~Sue Cartwright, THE PUBLIC REVIEWS
"the agile, adroit Hyland conjures everything through movement and voice, playing a multitude of characters in a hypnotic and intensely physical performance that is in turns chilling, humorous, surprising and ever energetic. Conducted at a cracking pace... Hyland’s story-telling is thrilling but what marks him out is his skill at distinctive characterisation, both physically and verbally. He spins story and characters alike with such dexterity... Powerful theatre indeed."
~Charles Hutchinson, THE YORK PRESS
“Hyland tells the famous miser’s story with astonishing dynamism in palpable, eerie earnest… It’s Hyland’s performance that revolutionises the tale. Accomplished and intense... Clearly the considerable charm of the evening owes itself to Hyland’s astonishing acting agility... a fantastic way to re-experience Dickens’ tale and remember why the author wrote it... a vibrant re-imagination of the classic.”
~Chad Armitstead, EXTRA! EXTRA!
“Wonderful storytelling... Watching the transformations Hyland goes through as he bounds through Dickens' strange and wonderful array of characters is fascinating... there seems to be no limit to their inventiveness... Hyland convincingly embodies each character he plays... There are a lot of Christmas Carol's around in London at the moment, this one stands out... clever, funny and powerful and so involving that you cannot help leaving with a smile on your face.”
~Beth Eyre, REMOTEGOAT
"Hyland succeeds in making Scrooge’s terror real and his remorse and ultimate redemption convincing. Similarly, he movingly captures the despair of the bereaved Bob Cratchit... it is the faithfulness to the original text and serious intent of the Carol that proves its strength."
~Paul Graham, THE DICKENSIAN
"Hyland vividly brings to life all the wonderful characters we know so well in a breathtaking performance, deftly switching roles in an instant... through his pitch perfect delivery of the lines and accomplished use of body language, Hyland really brings the book to life, with the power of his performance... this is a brilliant rendition of the classic tale. As well as being rich in theatrics, the one-man show format also captures the spirit of Dickens’ own dramatic readings... it is my sincere hope that at some point, some gifted soul will step forward to film this production for posterity."
~Jim Moon, THE MOON LENS
"Rarely has a performer been more self-sufficient than James Hyland... Riveting make-up, in which the eyes set the scene and a costume whose manacles provided some of his own sound effects, promised much and the actor delivered. Hyland’s beautifully-paced and projected vocal range and the meticulous actions of his tour-de-force, rightly played without an interval, kept the audience spellbound. It revealed Dickens’ concern for the economic class divide to be as relevant today as it was in his time... Just when I thought I knew 'A Christmas Carol' well, here comes Hyland. Simon Callow "eat your heart out"!"
~Pat Rudkins, HALSTEAD GAZETTE (CURTAIN CALL)
"Stunning! Remarkable! A strong and unique multi-persona production by one man!...one-of-a-kind, a uniquely original tale, described with an intense passionate emotion by James Hyland... James portrays Jacob Marley in such a commanding manner, you have no choice but to listen intently and observe his dark and foreboding warnings... don’t miss out on seeing this man act."
~Roger Newbury, SHEPPEY FM
"James Hyland's chilling theatrical tour-de-force... with just a wooden chair for company, he brings to life Charles Dickens' colourful characters. With a turn and a shrug, he becomes Fred the nephew, Bob the Clerk, Belle the beloved, the bereaved Cratchits, the portly Gentleman and even Tiny Tim... The author's intentions were well served... wonderfully done"
~Michael Gray, MICHAEL GRAY'S ARTS BLOG
"it is a very workmanlike reduction of A Christmas Carol and Marley’s grotesque appearance heightens the drama while, oddly, not inhibiting Hyland’s interpretation of such sunny characters as Scrooge’s nephew... James Hyland impresses, switching characters physically and vocally with great skill: the Ghost of Christmas Present echoing the mighty Brian Blessed, the voice lightening for Bob Cratchit and sliding into the East End for the traders on the Exchange"
~Ron Simpson, WHAT'S ON STAGE
"It surpassed all my expectations... scared the hell out of me... I would recommend this show and its counterpart 'Fagin’s Last Hour' to anyone"
~Tash Jones, TASH JONES' WORLD
"Incredible acting from James Hyland brings the story to life... With subtle variations in his body language to show character changes, Hyland displayed his incredible skill as an actor. This is particularly noticeable in scenes with dialogue: he swaps between characters in the blink of an eye. Or in the case of the Ghost of Christmas Past, with a jump!... It is through Hyland’s evocative acting that all the scenes are set... James Hyland is an incredibly talented actor and his storytelling kept me rapt throughout. If you are after a classic telling of A Christmas Carol, then this is perfect. I left the Tara Theatre with my Christmas spirit well and truly on its way!"
~Lily Middleton, EVERYTHING THEATRE
"James Hyland is an accomplished performer... a jolly romp, with Hyland playing all the characters... Children will be enthralled"
~Paul Vale, THE STAGE
"James Hyland managed seemingly effortlessly to carry off so many roles, his portrayal of each clear and distinct from the other. His manner would visibly change to reflect each character, you knew who each was before he even began to speak. With energy and vigour... he dived into the ghosts, the poor and Scrooge, capturing perfectly the Christmas spirit and message of the play, just as Dickens would have done in his own one-man shows... the play was dramatic, good fun... thoroughly enjoyable."
~Noah Forbes, ALLEYN'S NEWSLETTER
"Hyland so versatile... The acclaimed Hyland leaps and shifts between characters, mixing humour and drama. His engaging and agile performance creates an impressive piece of physical theatre."
~Richard Hooton, OLDHAM CHRONICLE