REDEFINING THE ACT OF GIFT GIVING
“Love, the only thing in the world more ridiculous than Christmas,” utters a snarky Ebenezer Scrooge (Joseph Ziegler) in the Soulpepper Theatre remount of A Christmas Carol. It’s these eleven incredulous words that require a major outlook overhaul when three undesirable ghosts descend upon an 1830’s London household to set matters straight.
Michael Shamata’s adaptation, a more compact and abbreviated narrative takes shape in his production painted with vibrant shades of selfishness, remorse, and compassion.
A conventional staging is not part of the playwright/director’s game plan that literally encompasses the audience accented by an elevating actor, floating sheet, and rattling chains. Yet Shamata encounters no difficulty whatsoever finding comical levers to warm the play’s icy atmosphere.
Bold theatrical craftsmanship comes alive with a perfectly hasty Joseph Ziegler in the lead role and John Jarvis assuming the reigns of Scrooge’s deceased business partner Jacob Marley as well as the evening’s spirit world visitors.
And the Yuletide magic continues with Oliver Dennis’ portrayal of the immensely good natured Bob Cratchit and Greg Prest’s younger version of Ebenezer who displays the first sign of curmudgeon behaviour in the presence of a love interest.
This easily accessible live version of the Charles Dickens’ classic gives you a keen sense of the broken world comprised of lenders and debtors. In doing so, story lovers are issued a sobering reminder about the dangers of becoming a different person than what they started out as.
John Ferguson’s costumes for these magnetic characters are period delights that spur the broadest smiles. His effort serves as tidy wrapping as Soulpepper Theatre redefines the act of gift giving with its remarkable accomplishment.
Review by Steven Berketo
A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 55 Tank House Lane Nov. 27- Dec. 27, 2014 TICKETS $29.00 – $74.00 www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Kevin Bundy, Joseph Ziegler, Sarah Wilson, Charlotte Dennis, Oliver Dennis, Deborah Drakeford, Greg Prest, Ava Arrindell, Daniel Chapman-Smith, Maggie Huculak, John Jarvis, Tangara Jones, Daniel-Anthony Akuffo, and Kevin Gordon DIRECTOR Michael Shamata SET AND COSTUMES John Ferguson LIGHTING Alan Broadie STAGE MANAGER Arwen MacDonnell