a cute carol
a christmas carol comedY by Katie Leamen (No Porpoise Productions). At Wychwood Theatre (76 Wychwood). Runs to Dec 23. $20-$30. noporpoiseproductions.com. See Continuing, page 33. Rating: nnn
A Christmas Carol Comedy stays true to Dickens’s original story while also incorporating an amusing air of mischief and a heaping serving of puns.
At the outset, performers M. John Kennedy and Sean Sullivan bound onstage to inform the audience of the division of roles: Kennedy portrays Scrooge and Sullivan plays everybody else. Then they launch into a robust retelling of the famous tale.
Sullivan accomplishes the feat of playing all the other characters by altering his vocal intonations and employing wigs, hats and scarves. Even while performing at breakneck speed, his precise timing keeps the story on track. Kennedy embodies Scrooge’s crankiness without becoming too scary or mean for a familyfriendly show, and he manifests a heartwarming transition to kindness by the play’s end. (Note: if that’s a spoiler for you, you’re seriously behind in your holiday classics.)
Clever props help define characters. For example, every member of the Cratchit family dons differently shaped eyeglasses, with Tiny Tim decked out in the largest ones of all, Harry Potter-style specs (plus a forlorn, tiny crutch).
Under Lynne Griffin’s direction, the actors don’t just break down the fourth wall; they stampede through it, sometimes literally into the audience. The staging includes predictable sight gags and slapstick, yet also innovative moments, such as when Jacob Marley’s ghost shows up at Scrooge’s door, or the way Scrooge peers through a windowpane into Cratchit’s house. Associate producer Sebastian Biasucci also lends an onstage hand (in a white glove) for laughs.
Katie Leamen’s script is crammed with pop culture references and cheesy clichés. Cratchit’s desire for his own catchphrase to compete with Scrooge’s “Bah! Humbug!” definitely induces giggles.
The source material, first published in 1843, obviously holds up to any incarnation. Never underestimate the timelessness of a classic Christmas story… or the addition of a rubber chicken.