BWW Review: Q BROTHERS CHRISTMAS CAROL at Chicago Shakespeare Theater
The Q Brothers Collective puts a highly inventive and endlessly delightful twist on Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale with Q Brothers CHRISTMAS CAROL. While the production's narrative follows the traditional story of the greedy Ebenezer Scrooge and the four spirits that haunt him on Christmas Eve as a harbinger to change his miserly ways, the Q Brothers Collective finds creative ways to breathe new life into their staging at every turn. This hip hop musical, deemed an "ad-rap-tation" of the original CHRISTMAS CAROL, incorporates more modern music influences into the story-as well as contemporary stylings when it comes to the show's sense of humor.
The four members of the Q Brothers Collective take on all the roles in the story. In the role of Scrooge, GQ is the only performer who does not shift roles. Fellow actors JQ, Jackson "Jax" Doran, and Postell "Pos" Pringle, however, charmingly switch between a number of characters. The staging quite cheekily calls attention to this multiple-casting in a way that lets audiences in on the joke.
That irreverent humor carries throughout Q Brothers CHRISTMAS CAROL, and the Collective delights in each moment. GQ nails Scrooge's crabby demeanor and gives it a new spin with his updated catchphrase; it's not the usual "Bah, Humbug," but I won't reveal it here so as not to spoil the surprise. He deftly switches between Scrooge's downcast, greedy mode into moments of joyful rap and dance, capturing both the character's isolation and also the capacity for love that remains underneath the surface. JQ is especially entertaining as Scrooge's former partner Jacob Marley, here reimagined as a Rastafarian character doomed to deliver his message in the form of Reggae music (which Marley reveals he hated when he was living). Jax delivers the part of Scrooge's nephew Fred with aplomb, and he's also particularly hilarious as Mrs. Cratchit. Pos likewise has many great moments, particularly in his rapid-fire swaps between the roles of Bob Cratchit and Martha.
Also worth mentioning: Q Brothers CHRISTMAS CAROL puts a new and hilarious spin on the tale's other most iconic role of Tiny Tim. Rechristened Lil' Tim, JQ turns him into a high-spirited freestyle rapper...with a seemingly endless list of ailments.
Q Brothers CHRISTMAS CAROL puts a refreshing, hilarious, and inventive take on one of the season's most well-trod tales. This is the most imaginative CAROL I've ever seen, and it will surely leave audiences singing.
Photo Credit: Joe Mazza
Review by Rachel Weinberg