Review: A Christmas Carol

by Lynn on December 7, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ont. until Dec. 23, 2021.

Based on the novella by Charles Dickens

Adapted by and starring Rod Beattie

That’s right, Rod Beattie tells the story of A Christmas Carol playing all the parts himself. With judicious pruning here and there, Rod Beattie re-enacts Charles Dickens’ story of the reformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from a miserly, Christmas-hating, constantly irritated ‘scrooge’ into a joking, fun-loving, open-hearted, generous man. Scrooge becomes a man who has re-discovered his capacity to love other human beings and not just money.

Wearing casual black pants, a stylish sweater and burgundy shoes, Rod Beattie (well-microphoned) announces solemnly that Jacob Marley was dead. In this well-paced, seventy-minute production, Beattie continues revealing Dickens’ story using a different voice, inflection and body language for each new character. Marley’s voice is deep and ponderous; Scrooge’s beloved sister Fanny is light and sweet since she was a kid in his memories; his fiancé, Belle, is delicate and disappointed when she had to end their engagement; Scrooge was hard, irritable and cantankerous. Occasionally music accompanies a segment that adds a lightness to it or a certain feeling.

No projections or special lighting are used to conjure the spirits because Beattie leaves that to our imagination, (the most powerful thing in the theatre). I don’t think the piece is diminished because of the lack of extra technology. Beattie uses the space well shifting a box-seat here and there; negotiating his way around the stage as her segues from character to character.

Everyone knows Rod Beattie from his wonderful Wingfield series of shows about Walt Wingfield, a former Bay Street lawyer who becomes a gentleman farmer, determined to make his farm pay, by working it himself. The series introduces all manner of crazy characters, all played with great dexterity by Rod Beattie. There arejust a few moments during A Christmas Carol when I hear hints of the Wingfield characters, but not many. Rod Beattie’s creations of the characters in A Christmas Carol are original and vivid. His telling of the story is funny, very moving and ultimately joyous because Scrooge finds his inner kind self when he comes face to face with his own miserable self. It’s a story of which we never get tired, and one that is always timely.

Theatre Orangeville Presents:

Plays until: Dec. 23, 2021.

Running Time: 70 minutes.

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