24 November 2010
POTS production of Dickens' Christmas Carol
It wouldn’t be Christmas without Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol! If you live in Eastern Pennsylvania, make sure that this year your Christmas Carol is the Players of the Stage production directed by Sharon Barshinger. Here are all the details:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Adapted for the stage by Anna Barshinger Lauffer
December 2, 3, 4 at 7:00 pm
December 4 at 2:00 pm
Living Hope Church
330 Schantz Road, Allentown
Admission is free; an offering will be taken to benefit the Allentown Rescue Mission
Players of the Stage is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with yet another good production. Each of their plays proves just what children and teenagers are capable of doing with the right guidance and high expectations. With minimal sets, these young people create an entire world of emotion through cleanly delivered lines, smooth transitions, swift stage-crew work, and passionate performances. Jeffrey Harvey as Scrooge is especially to be commended: this is no light role for a seventeen-year-old, and he pulls it off convincingly and—more importantly—with conviction (in both senses of the word). His change is palpable and tons of fun to watch. Sharon Barshinger is a visionary director, seeing beyond the page to the spiritual and human universals of any story. She is also an excellent manager of her young cast, disciplining them into professional timing, technique, and character development. The Company has come a long way in her few short years of directing.
While this is a straight-forward, classic performance of the classic tale without any flashy modern updates or special effects, its charm is in its simplicity and fidelity to Dickens’ text. This is the ideal performance to see for the first time or for children to watch at any age. A great way to experience this play would be to read the book out loud at home (or listen to it; it is available from Learn Out Loud, World English, and other online venues), then come watch it together as a family. A few minor textual omissions and paraphrases will surprise purists, but most readers will find nothing amiss. The characters are true to type, the costumes historically accurate, and the climax as stirring as ever. While this is not the most merry Christmas Carol you will ever see, it is perhaps the most direct. Scrooge’s transformation is unambiguous, the moral obvious and relevant. One nice touch is Sharon’s subtle development of the character of Ignorance: in the book, the Ghost of Christmas Present pulls aside the folds of his robe to reveal two wretched children. The Ghost says: “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” Watch carefully and you will see Ignorance appearing at crucial moments in the play, never speaking, but silently commenting on the dangers of many kinds of ignorance: oblivion to others’ sufferings, lack of a liberal education, and lack of acquaintance with spiritual truth.
So come on over to this classic production of A Christmas Carol to start your Advent season off right!