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Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol

a Holiday Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Tom Mula

COMPANY : Actors Theatre of Atlanta [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actors Theatre of Atlanta [WEBSITE]
ID# 1856

SHOWING : December 01, 2006 - December 23, 2006

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Move over Scrooge - Jacob marley's story is front ans center in this four actor take on the Christmas Carol story. Jacob Marley (deceased business partner of Dicken's imfamous Ebenezer Scrooge) is in a bind: Either redeem Scrooge before Christmas morning, or face eternal punishment. Aided by a Bogle, a malicious little hell-sprite with an agenda of his own, their hilarious journey takes them from the Jaws of Death to the Mouth of Hell—and beyond! This irreverent, funny, and ultimately, deeply moving story retells Dickens' classic with warmth and infectious zest.


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REVIEWS

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Bogle-ing Perspectives
by Dedalus
Friday, December 22, 2006
3.0
Tom Mula’s “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” tells a familiar story from an unfamiliar perspective. Although there is everything to admire in Actors Theatre’s production – performances, design, production, direction, intimacy, etc etc etc – I don’t think the differing viewpoint adds anything to the ground already covered by Dickens (and bajillions of adaptations currently on view).

To summarize, Jacob Marley finds himself in a pickle – he’s dead as a doornail and faces an eternity forged by the mistakes he’s made in life. That is, unless he can adjust the heart of his old partner Ebenezer Scrooge. Since we know how that plan turned out, all that’s left is finding out how Jacob’s eternity turns out.

WWhat wehave here is a tale of redemption for a character hardened by a suitably Dickensian childhood. We have a whimsical look at an afterlife found in no religious tracts that I know of. We have a group of actors at their peak (Mark Kincaid, Larry Larson, Allen O’Reilly, and Victoria Leigh) taking multiple roles to tell a story. What we don’t have is a single theme or plotline or characterization that we haven’t seen before.

There is a place for retelling of classic stories. The Alliance’s take on this same tale adds dimension by filling in some details left out by Dickens – what happens to Fezziwig and Belle, what happens to harden Scrooge’s heart, why do the visitations affect Scrooge in the way they do, what songs shaped the Christmases of Victorian London. This show, on the other hand, adds details that aren’t too dissimilar from what we already know and fills in character details from the basic Victorian Dickens-by-Numbers palette. **

All this being said, I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed this new “Christmas Carol.” It could be that the story is rich enough to make any rehash interesting. It could be that redemption is an affecting theme, whether it’s about Scrooge or Marley. It could be the modern idioms slipping into the script, or the lines that are just different enough from the original to be slightly surprising (for example, Scrooge’s ridicule of Marley’s first visitation). Or it could be that I just like this story and these actors.

Adopting a Readers Theatre approach by using semi-modern dress, minimal set, and direct address to the audience, Mr. Larson and company take what is a very familiar story, and make us all to happy to hear it again. This production needs to be listened to as well as watched. And, all nitpicking aside, I was glad I heard their story.

Dickens (and the Bogle) Bless Us, Every One!


-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)



** For those with a fondness for the SF genre, another case in comparison would be Orson Scott Card’s retelling of his “Ender’s Game” story in “Ender’s Shadow” – here is the same plot, but the new perspective isn’t a rehash, but a deepening of themes and characters he developed in later books in the series. To keep it interesting, he added details that showed his original story didn’t give us “all the facts,” and continues with several more books detailing a history totally lost by Ender’s time-losing star-hopping.

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