ACTORS loved to be loved, don’t they? Even when playing “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” they like to suggest a little warmth.

Especially at Christmas time.

But Benny Young’s attempt to crank up the heat just a little, to thwart the pervading mood of melancholia, was foiled.

Young’s Scrooge, now being revealed at the Citizens’ Theatre production of A Christmas Carol wasn’t allowed to reveal a heart anytime soon. Citz director Dominic Hill insisted the ‘Bah, humbug’ content remain consistent.

“I wanted to play Scrooge at the beginning of the play as being a little sympathetic but Dominic stopped it right away,” says the actor, smiling. “He was so right to do that. During rehearsals he would say ‘No. Harder. Faster.’ “

We’re having coffee at the Tramway Theatre in Glasgow’s South side to which the Citz company has decanted. Young’s enthusiasm for the show is a vivid as the pink woollen jumper he’s wearing.

“We had a performance this morning at 10.30am,” he says of the production, adapted by Neil Bartlett. “It was full of mums with young kids and babies and some were feeding their babies during the show and it was great. It wasn’t distracting at all, and some of the little kids at one point launched a stage invasion. And that was great to. The nature of the show allows for that.”

Young loves Dickens’ story. “Dickens was on tour in Scotland when he wandered through the Canongate Cemetery in Edinburgh (June, 1841) and came across a tombstone which read ‘Ebenezer Scroggie – Meal Man’, which meant he worked in corn. He misread it as Mean Man. And so the story was born.

“What I love about this play is it’s about creating a feeling of goodwill. It may be artificial, but still so beneficial, for the audience and the cast.”

He adds; “Bertold Brecht says you should bring the subject home with you, and I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I have my own interpretation. For me, it means that when we’re in the dressing room we try and generate a sense of goodwill. And it raises the spirit in some way, you get a real sense you’re doing your job.”

Young has played Scrooge in a past production by the National Theatre of Scotland. “Going further back I was aware of other Scrooge’s such as Alistair Sim, Michael Caine in The Muppets Christmas Carol – which was absolutely incredible – it’s always been around. And even if people don’t know the story they know what the word scrooge means.”

It’s a great redemption tale. “Yes, it’s really the only Christmas story performed in the States, that and It’s A Wonderful Life,” he says smiling.

“In fact, if you hadn’t had the Dickens story It’s A Wonderful Life would probably never have happened, with its incorporation of ghosts/angels coming to help us when things are at their worst.”

As well as turning out to be a heart-warming story, there are jokes in A Christmas Carol. “Dickens was very funny. And even though this isn’t the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, we do allow the kids to be a little frightened. That’s not wrong. It creates drama. And of course they’re with their pals or family.”

He adds, grinning; “Dickens exploits and manipulates us mercilessly, for all the right reasons. But what we can also take from this play is a chance to think and feel.”

The production doesn’t set out to create an awareness of poverty, but it’s implicit. More importantly, it’s a chance for an audience to be reminded of the true values in life, and the very dark Christmas is the backdrop for appreciating those positives.

What does Christmas mean to the actor? “It wasn’t a big deal when I was young,” he says of growing up in Partick. “You got a present, but the big thing was Hogmanay.”

He adds;” It’s a cliché but I wish Christmas wasn’t so commercial. I don’t’ have a particular religious belief but a couple of years ago I was in America and went to Midnight Mass. I grew up on the other side, as it were, but the mass left me with a feeling of such goodwill. And that’s the feeling I’d like people to have at Christmas time.”

A Christmas Carol, The Tramway Theatre, Glasgow, until January 6.