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Dickens Christmas Carol: A Traveling Travesty in Two Tumultuous Acts
a Comedy
by Mark Landon Smith

ID# 5177

SHOWING : December 01, 2017 - December 17, 2017



From the author of the popular Faith County and An Evening of Culture - Faith County II comes a completely different adaptation of the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. From the bonny shores of England comes the Styckes-Upon-Thump Repertory Theatre Company, a stuffy old travelling troupe embarking on their fifteenth annual farewell tour of the Dickens tale. The company includes Sir Selsdon Piddock, the consummate actor, in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, with Mrs. Bettina Salisbury, Dame Rowena Middleton-Lewis, Mrs. Cordelia ffoliet-ffolkes ffortescue Woods, Teddy Shub and Elyot Crummels in multiple supporting roles. Sweet Cynthia Imbry, the general understudy, suddenly finds herself thrust onstage to perform a role she is ill-prepared for! Bettina, the company diva, pretends to be ill, certain the production will be cancelled. However, much to her shock and rage, the show does go on without her! Roles are shuffled at the last minute and poor Cynthia finds herself center stage. The play begins but mid-way through the theatre doors open and in rushes Bettina, determined to reclaim her roles. Mayhem ensues as this professional company scrambles to keep the show going and everything that could possibly go wrong does, to hilarious, ridiculous results!

Director Jonathan Goff
Stage Manager Robyn Guy
Sir Selsdon Piddock (Scrooge) Keith Bates
Cynthia Imbry (Understudy) Hailey Carroll
Mr. Elyot Crummels (Bob Cratchit and oth Jeremy Choate
Teddy Shub (Fred and others) Adam Roderick Darby
Mrs. Bettina Salisbury (Emily Cratchit a Alyssa Davis
Mrs. Cordelia ffoliet-ffolkes ffortescue Abigail Ellis
Charlie Ashford (Stagehand) Meagan Graham
Barnaby Buttons (Stagehand) Benjamin Roper
Dame Rowena Middleton-Lewis (Ghost and Emily Voller
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Noises Off
by playgoer
Sunday, December 17, 2017
There’s a danger with shows in which things are supposed to go wrong. If things look too rehearsed, the fun is reduced. If the timing is off, the fun is reduced. If things that AREN’T supposed to go wrong go obviously wrong, the fun can be gone altogether. Luckily, ACT1’s production of "A Dickens Christmas Carol: A Traveling Travesty in Two Tumultuous Acts" avoids most of these problems.

The set design by Bob and Chris Cookson helps all aspects of this production. It’s a lovely set to look at, with glorious scenic painting on the wall stage right, the mirror on the wall stage left, and the storefront up center. It’s also designed so that stagehands can be seen above the storefront and costume racks can be seen around behind it. This adds to the spirit of improvisation that imbues the whole production. The rickety nature of the stage right wall is delightful in a running gag, not to mention the trick nature of the storefront.

The lighting and sound by Murray Mann also add to the fun, being obviously wrong when they’re supposed to be, and otherwise fulfilling their jobs winningly. Meaghan Graham’s costumes and Emily Voller’s props fulfill similar purposes. The cast members change costumes frequently, and the best ones change accent and posture too to indicate their different characters.

In this regard, Jeremy Choate is most impressive. Although Bob Cratchit is his main character, he also makes indelible impressions as spooky Jacob Marley and the Scottish-inflected Ghost of Christmas Present. Hailey Carroll is impressive in exactly the opposite way: she plays an understudy, and in every role she is the same, stumbling through lines she is obviously reading from ill-concealed script pages. Tons of fun also come from Abigail Ellis and Alyssa Davis, who play two actresses attempting to cover the same role at the same time. (Ms. Davis’ character arrived late for the performance, and Ms. Ellis’ character had already gone on for her.) Adam Darby is remarkably well-spoken in his roles.

Accents are a bit of a mixed bag. Memorized lines are generally good. But given the nature of the show, with cast members at the start walking back and forth behind a partially open curtain, improvised lines are also heard. When I heard the American "trash can" instead of the British "dust bin" during this portion of the show, my heart sank a bit. Then when I heard Benjamin Roper’s curtain speech, with only occasional British-inspired notes in his American speech patterns, I prepared myself for an abysmal set of accents. After that, though, things are pretty close to fine.

Jonathan Goff deserves a lot of credit for his direction of the show. The manic energy infecting the cast translates directly into audience enjoyment. Staging makes full use of the space. Scrooge’s story may slide a bit into the background, and pacing of the final moment seems off, but the show is a lot more fun than the only previous production of this show I had seen (years ago) that had turned me off this adaptation until now. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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