I’m sorry to say it, but: Humbug.
And unlike Scrooge, I didn’t change my tune by the end of the Good Company Players production of “A Christmas Carol” at the 2nd Space Theatre. The show isn’t up to GCP standards.
The bright spot is Mark Norwood in the title role of Scrooge. It takes true theatrical finesse to breathe originality and presence into a cliche-prone word like “humbug,” and Norwood is more than up for the task. (You, the reader, might not feel as benevolently about my success in tossing the famed utterance into the lead sentence of this review.) His Scrooge is grumpy and sour, of course, and occasionally a bit whimsical, but he’s also a little scary, which is what this show needs if it isn’t going to descend into cloying sentimentality. Norwood gives us a dark place from which Scrooge can journey into the light, which makes his redemption worth the trip.
Or should have, if directors Max and Nicholle Debbas had given him more of a convincing world for him to inhabit.
I think there were intriguing creative decisions that went into this production. David Pierce’s minimalist scenic design, with its sliding set pieces, is ambitious for the 2nd Space, but the resulting coffin-like mechanism that serves as Scrooge’s bed, for example, seems clunky instead of atmospheric. (I applaud the innovative design, but this wasn’t the right project.) And casting such pivotal roles as the ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Present with such young actors was a risk as well — and in this case, it just didn’t pay off.
I’m all for a fresh approach to beloved classics. But to me, the production feels sterile and perfunctory. “A Christmas Carol” deserves better.
You may now commence with any “Scrooge Critic” ripostes you deem deserving.