The classic Christmas tale about a greedy cold-hearted creditor who learns about the generosity of Christmas by revisiting his past, evaluating his present and looking into his future is coming to Theatre In The Country this holiday season.
A Christmas Carol, the 1843 novella by Charles Dickens, tells the tale about Ebenezer Scrooge who rejects Christmas and all the good tidings the season brings. He declines a dinner invitation from his nephew Fred, has no time for people collecting money for charity and overworks his employee Bob Cratchit.
Scrooge is then paid a visit by the ghost of a former business partner who has come to warn him about his mean ways. Jacob Marley’s spirit has been wandering the earth since he died as punishment for being consumed with business and not the needs of his fellow human beings when he was alive.
Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits who will revisit his past, reflect on the present and show him his future if his path in life remains unchanged.
“It’s a new script we are doing,” explained Theatre In The Country artistic director Reg Parks, adding that this script is very true to the original Dickens’ story.
The script was adapted by John Mortimer and was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in England in 1994.
“We’ve done A Christmas Carol at the Theatre before and I’ve personally been in it three times before that,” he said.
“[This one] tells the story using a lot more text from the Dickens’ novel,” said Parks.
“There are 22 people in the cast and every one of them at some point narrates parts of the story except for Paul Beckett, who is playing Scrooge,” he explained.
The play will also include many of the classic Christmas carols from the period.
“It’s got a real sense of community involvement because everybody is part of the story telling and we like that. It’s not as big and brash as some tellings, it’s a little gentler telling which we think is fun and very Christmas-y,” said Parks.
The set for the play is minimalist with creative projections and theatrical storytelling taking the audience to a mining colony, a ship at sea and a lighthouse on the corner of a bluff in Scotland.
Parks believes that there are lots of current traditions that Dickens established in the novella, traditions that we take for granted now.
“Family Christmas dinners were kind of highlighted in there and became part of the norm, things like the Christmas goose, which became the Christmas turkey, became prolific because of him mentioning it in A Christmas Carol,” said Parks.
For Parks, watching or reading A Christmas Carol is part of his own Christmas tradition. He believes there are still lessons we need to be reminded of each Christmas season.
“I think I like this story because it reflects all of us. We are all Scrooges at one time or another and I think we all shoot to be Scrooge at the end of the story as opposed to at the beginning of the story,” he said.
A roast beef dinner or vegetarian equivalent is optional for the evening.
Dessert including shortbread and cranberry squares will reflect the Christmas theme of the production.