ORANGEVILLE – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the second show of the season for Theatre Orangeville, which in October welcomed back live audiences for the first time in close to 600 days.
The production, a one-player version adapted and performed by Rod Beattie, tells the familiar tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the cold-hearted curmudgeon visited by the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future, who help reveal to him the error of his ways.
It’s been considered a holiday classic since shortly after Dickens’ novella was first published in 1843. And the lessons learned by Scrooge remain important ones to this day.
Beattie’s wit seems as sharp as ever, as does his uncanny ability to commit to memory an absurd amount of material. And he excels at playing Scrooge from the get-go.
Yet his ability to perform physical comedy is diminished and, unlike the Wingfield plays for which he is well known, in a A Christmas Carol there often is not enough variation in characters’ voices, which can lead to audience confusion.
Theatre officials say this version of A Christmas Carol is not recommended for children in Grade 2 and younger. But this reviewer does not recommend it for children or youths regardless of age – not because it’s scary, but because without actors, it can be hard for youngsters to understand what’s going on, given the dialogue was written almost 180 years ago.
However, the play’s brevity – it’s one act and less than half the length of most productions – is perfect for this type of presentation, and more mature audience members may enjoy it as a fitting addition to their holiday traditions and an entertaining night out to celebrate the Christmas season.
And, of course, everyone could always use another reminder of the important lessons learned by Scrooge, specifically at this time of year and especially given what’s happened over the last 21 months.
A Christmas Carol plays until Dec. 23. For tickets call 519-942-3423 or 1-800-424-1295 or visit theatreorangeville.ca.