CHRISTMAS is coming early for theatre lovers in and around the county town.

For the past few months Dorchester Drama has been busy rehearsing Charles Dickens’s much-loved festive tale and it will be performed at the Corn Exchange later this month.

A Christmas Carol tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge’s ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visitations of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

The play is being directed by Anne Reeve, who is thrilled not just with the way the production has come together, but how richly layered the story actually is.

“It is a lovely story to do because there are so many different angles,” said Anne. “It is not just a sweet Christmas story, but a story about one soul’s redemption.

“There are times when you can really hear Dickens getting upset about poverty and the way the children were treated then.

“Before Dickens wrote the book he went to the north of England and was depressed by the effects that industrialisation was having on the children. He was seeing children in the factories who were not getting enough to eat and who had no shoes. He wanted to write something that would bring this to people’s attention and it is genius that he wraps it up in a story about one man’s redemption.”

The various ages of Scrooge, from boy to youth to old man have been taken by Jack Dunne, Sam Kelly and Trevor Williams.

Anne said that all three actors have taken on the role brilliantly – with Jack also playing the part of Tiny Tim.

“The play is going very well, but is quite complex balancing moments of comedy with high tragedy,” said the director.

“There is a bit where we see the elderly Scrooge looking back to when he was a young man and his engagement was broken off by his fiancée. Trevor’s face is so expressive you can really see the pain flitting across his face. The audience will be in tears – but there will be a lot of laughter too.”

Of the other main roles, Nick Heap is the Ghost of Christmas Present, Lorna Moss is the Ghost of Christmas Past, Dee Thorne plays Mrs Cratchitt and Vince Jones is her husband Bob.

The production is also turning into something of a family affair.

Anne’s husband David has been organising things behind the scenes, Jack Dunne’s little sister Molly plays a young Cratchitt, while Colin and Tim Clare play the ghost of Marley.

A Christmas Carol will be performed at the Corn Exchange in High East Street, Dorchester from Thursday to Saturday, November 11 to 13. Tickets are £8 in advance from Words Etc in Cornhill, South Street, £9 on the door and £5 for children.