X-Geeks

A Christmas Carol – 2020 – (Audiobook) Review

By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

This review is spoiler-free.

Synopsis:

Audible Studios presents a brand new recording of Charles Dickens’ timeless seasonal story A Christmas Carol, performed by Hugh Grant.

First published in 1843, it tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean and unpleasant man who dislikes people generally and Christmas especially.

One Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come and given a glimpse of the many homes and lives which Scrooge has touched in his wretched life to date. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.

I had only recently finished writing my review for Audible’s 2016 full-cast production of A Christmas Carol when I got a notification on my phone – Audible had done it again! A new version of A Christmas Carol, this time read by Hugh Grant. Audible are currently offering their 2020 production of A Christmas Carol for free to members! Despite only finishing the other one the day before, how could I not jump on this? This story is one of my favourites and it never gets old. So here war are…

This is a direct adaption, but I think that works in the book’s favour! Even a word-for-word performance can still separate itself from the other versions out there, because most have taken their own creative licences with the source material. This leaves the original still feeling like its own unique story.

Hugh Grant is a great get for Audible, especially given his resurgence in recent years, so I was interested to see how he would approach the story. First of all, Hugh has a wonderful reading voice! It was calming, inviting and extremely refined. As a narrator, he finds his strength, but when it comes to voicing the characters, that is when the quality wavers. His characters bleed into each other and are difficult, at times, to separate. That said, some characters like Fred and Old Joe come off really well. I would definitely listen to more stories ready by Hugh Grant.
While there was no need for sound design or too much editing here, the overall production was tightly put together and well produced. For a one-man show it was what you’d expect from Audible!

As for the negatives? The only one downside is the issue I have already mentioned, the character bleeding. Apart from that there is little to pick at, it is just a well put together little audiobook.

A Christmas Carol is a wonderful, one-man performance piece from Hugh Grant, and while there are stronger adaptions out there, this portrayal is still very good. While the audiobook is a little rough around the edges, it more than makes up for it with a faithful retelling of this much loved Christmas classic!

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