If nothing else, A Christmas Carol is an exercise in Christmas spirit
Celebrating its 18th year in production, the Citadel’s crowd-pleasing adaptation of A Christmas Carol has become for many as much a part of obligatory Christmas happenings in Edmonton as reading the Victorian novella on which it is based.
It should really come as no surprise—thanks to the widespread popularity that followed its 1843 publication, not to mention the bevvy of adaptations (both loose and otherwise) that saturate cable sitcoms to this day. Audiences surely must be (at the very least) somewhat prepared for what’s about to be lobbed at them.
Ebenezer Scrooge, a moneylender and resident Grinch, discovers the true meaning of Christmas after a nighttime visit from three ghosts that force him to confront his past, present, and future. He realizes the error of his ways, he makes amends, and a crippled child proclaims “God bless us, everyone!” And as far as stage productions go, this remains true to form.
And this, I’m afraid, works both to the advantage and disadvantage of this latest Citadel production—it’s the same story of redemption you know and love (or at least tolerate for those out-of-town relatives you want to entertain), but there’s nothing up there that’ll leave you shocked.
The set pieces are the same ones I remember seeing when I was 10, 12, 16, and 19. And now, at 26, I ask myself how many times audiences must witness Jacob “Jump-Scare” Marley burst from his casket and bellow exposition in the show’s jarring opening dream sequence.
But, this isn’t to say it’s a bad production—the cast and chorus approach Tom Wood’s adaptation with the same steadfast vigour despite many of them being veterans to the production. Glen Nelson is a fine representation of the conflicted curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge (despite some inconsistencies with his accent); so too is Ashley Wright who delivers a moving portrayal of the jolly yet sobering ghost of Christmas present.
What’s more, the effects have also held up after nearly two decades—the looming spectre of the ghost of Christmas yet to come, for instance, still makes audiences gasp. The face of Marley appearing in hologram on the doorway to Scrooge’s manor house is indeed striking.
And for all of this, I’m still left wanting. Like a Dickensian waif, I’m left begging for more. But then, I’m not really sure what “more” would look like here. The story is a simple morality tale— it’s life-affirming, yes, but easily digested. I suppose for many, it is like an annual tune-up; a stirring reminder of how one should act the whole year ‘round. And for that, I suppose, there are worse ways to get into the Christmas spirit.
Until Sat., Dec. 23
A Christmas Carol
Starting at $30