Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Reader’s Version

I accompanied my son and some other homeschool folks to A Christmas Carol, performed at the New American Shakespeare Tavern, on Peachtree Street in Atlanta on Tuesday. As the cast took the stage of this “reader’s version” they began with some impressive accapello caroling. The story is familiar to most people, of course, but the swiftly changing corps of narrators also brings Dicken’s prose into the spotlight.

The plot is about the change of heart of Ebenezer Scrooge, and Drew Reeves did a marvelous job of bringing him to life, with a decidedly comic overtone. Indeed, there was plenty of good humor in the entire production, yet it was done without sacrificing the poignant themes that cause this story speak to generation after generation.

The audience was mostly young folks, since we were at a student matinee performance, and I did enjoy watching their reactions, almost as much as I enjoyed the excellent acting, singing, and occasional instrumental music. Instead of a large cast and elaborate sets and props, the folks at the Shakespeare playhouse make do with a few talented actors, a bit of pantomime, and the imaginations of their audience.

I can’t quite remember every version of this story that I have seen, and I have not seen the new one which is in movie theaters this Christmas season, but I do like the television version with George C. Scott as Scrooge. About a decade ago, my sister took my daughter and me to see an excellent production of it at the Alliance Theatre, which is also in Atlanta. While I have enjoyed every play I have seen at the Shakespare playhouse, this version of A Christmas Carol stands out as perhaps the best play I have seen at the venue, and certainly it is the best version of this classic tale by Charles Dickens that I can remember.

There are many ways to celebrate Christmas, from stuff to stuffing. However, people remember experiences more than either material goods or food, and seeing A Christmas Carol in an intimate playhouse with an enthusiastic audience is a highlight of the season.

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