Monday, December 2, 2013

A Christmas Carol

What the Dickens is going on at the Theatre at St. Clement’s? A whole lot of fun, that’s what, thanks to Patrick Barlow’s playful adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

Barlow’s previous experience turning a classic into whimsey brought us The 39 Steps, the Tony Award-winning show that spoofed Alfred Hitchcock’s movie and ran on Broadway for two years. Now, in 90 minutes, he takes on Victorian England with tongue-in-cheek glee -- Scrooge describes the London slums as “Dickensian.” He is well-supported by director Joe Calarco who has characters toss a handful of snowflakes over their heads as they enter Scrooge’s office. No need for fancy special effects here. The production’s good spirit and power of imagination carry the day.

Peter Bradbury heads the excellent cast of five, all of whom seem to be having a jolly good time. Mark Light-Orr plays Bob Cratchit and other parts and Jessie Shelton, Franca Vercelloni and Mark Price portray various characters as well as sing and play instruments in Anne Kennedy’s festive costumes. Tiny Tim is a marionette skillfully manipulated by Price.

Scenic designer Brian Prather has created the barest of sets, just a black outline of a window and door and a spiral staircase. With a revolving stage and Chris Lee’s lighting, we fly through time for Christmases past, present and future.

I hope this Christmas Carol will become an annual event, right up there with the Rockettes and the lighting of the tree at Rock Center.

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1 comment:

Frances Davis said...

I saw this play Nov. 27 and was amazed.

At first I was skeptical that only five actors could believingly portray the varied characters in Dicken's novella, but it only took moments for me to become a believer.

This Scrooge was lively and quick, and so different from the Scrooges we have seen before. I was amazed at the physicality of all the actors and how they used so little to convey so much.

The entrance of Tiny Tim, a marionette, was brilliant. In a few minutes, by the tones of a recorder and the slight moments of Mark Price, Tiny Tim became not a puppet, but a real boy.

I was so sorry when the play ended. I wished it could have gone on for twice as long. It was one of the highlights of my holiday.