Written by Alina Mae Wilson
What exactly is it that makes a story and show stand the test of time? The obvious challenge in answering this question stems from the fact that each show is different and therefore entertains it’s audience in a different way. In the case of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol the more arguable answer is the continued relevancy of the main character’s journey. South Coast Repertory’s newest presentation of this iconic tale lives up to theatre goers’ expectations in most ways, bringing the play to you with both visual beauty and convincing acting.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a bitter old miser who harbors an aversion to anything resembling Christmas cheer. This includes things like smiling, using more coal when the room is freezing, and accepting invitations to dinner from your only known relative. Other characters assure the audience, that this is not simply a result of the holiday, Scrooge is the epitome of stingy loneliness all year long. The man neither gives nor receives happiness. The catalyst of his journey towards change is begun by a visit from his now deceased business party Jacob Marley’s ghost, who informs him of the coming of three Christmas Spirits which will help him to change his fate.
Everything regarding the appearance of this show is fantastic. The costumes are everything that might be desired, the lighting is dismal/uplifting in all of the appropriate parts, and the special effects exceed expectations. Ebenezer Scrooge is described in the program as a “grasping, covetous old man” and his part is played accordingly. The caustic tone used when he is bargaining the terms of his impoverished clerk’s one day per year shows a side of Scrooge that I have not seen in any other adaptation–he might be something of a sadist. His snide comments and withering stares indicate that he is not simply grouchy but is actively enjoying causing harm to someone weaker than himself. In other versions he is usually just in a bad mood.
One of the weaker acting aspects of the night, were the moments of fear Ebenezer felt when meeting the ghosts. The emotions of fear simply didn’t come through as well as all the other emotions the actor displayed that night.
It should be noted that for some strange reason the director cut Tiny Tim’s beloved “God bless us, everyone”. Though I grew up with the show, for some reason I was never terribly attached to this line so I wasn’t too upset. But it made me wonder why–is it shying away from the original religious overtones of the work? If so, it seems strange to have a scene involving Scrooge on his knees praying to God. If you saw the show and heard the line please let me know, because it is possible, I simply did not hear it.
Overall they delivered the story in its original format, with a beautifully direct hit on the target of mankind’s potential for love, kindness, and warmth.
Date & Location :
November 28th – December 27th
South Coast Repertory
655 Town Center Drive, PO Box 2197, Costa Mesa
If you liked this article subscribe with your email on the front page.