A Christmas Carol

J.C. Cutler (Ebenezer Scrooge) in the Guthrie Theater's production of the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol." Photo by Michael Brosilow

by REBECCA HALAT, Guest Reviewer
Reader beware! I have stepped in to help out your usual Aisle Say TC reviewers, and my take on this piece must be read with the knowledge that I am both a theater novice and Christmas lover.

From what I understand, A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater is a long-established Twin Cities theater tradition, and in my opinion, it is so for good reason. The set was beautiful, the period costumes ranged from fun and silly to serious and scary, and the choreography and dancing was impressive. The special effects used to bring out the ghosts were striking—not to spoil too much, but my favorite entrance was that of the Ghost of Christmas Present. There were even moments were I felt honestly frightened by the smoke, the lights and the echoing voices.

Throughout the entire show, I was enchanted and brought back to the last time I saw this play, long ago when I was a child. It had all the grandeur and grace that one expects from both the Guthrie and from A Christmas Carol, and I was left feeling giddy and warmed. It was a great start to the holiday season.

While the show alone was remarkable, what I believe will stay with me the most is the message that came across quite clearly from the story itself. I’m always impressed when a production of a classic story can be presented with hints towards important contemporary issues while still maintaining the integrity of the original version. To be sure, this is a familiar tale—so familiar in fact that it was hard from me to hear the name “Scrooge” during the play and not think of what the word has come to mean in every day speech. However, there seemed to be, in playwright Crispen Whittel’s adaptation, a heavy emphasis placed on the importance of charity and of helping those less fortunate.

No doubt, this theme plays strongly in Dickens’ original text, yet when a disdainful character proclaimed that he did not like to think of himself as “rich,” but rather as “a job creator,” I knew that Whittel was very subtlety making a classic story powerfully relevant in our 21st century world, with the widening income gap and troubled economy we read about in the news every day. This made the story all the more entertaining. I was able to revel in the beauty of the production itself, enjoy its classic, comforting story, and find a message that can be used in my world at present.

I can’t recommend the Guthrie’s A Christmas Carol strongly enough. True, this play can often be viewed as a cliché, but I’m of the firm belief that many beautiful things in life are clichés for a reason, as they stand the test of time. This story is beautiful and relevant, and, when presented as charmingly as it is at the Guthrie, will keep you entertained and surprised.

Rebecca Halat studies masculinity and French literature at the University of Minnesota. She is unapologetically in favor of commercialism and pop culture.

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Crispen Whittel
Directed by Joe Dowling
November 19-December 30, 2011
Guthrie Theater
818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415
612.377.2224 or 1.877.44.STAGE
Tickets: $29-73
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