Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL, PlayMakers Repertory Company

A great production of a holiday classic

By: Dec. 16, 2020

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL, PlayMakers Repertory Company

What's the holiday season without a performance of A CHRISTMAS CAROL? Ever since it was first published, theaters around the world have shared productions of Charles Dickens's classic story with their audiences every year. With many theaters still closed, productions this year might take different forms. PlayMakers Repertory Company's audio drama production is a great example of how a theater can adapt to create something that fits the strange year this has been.

For the few who don't know, Dickens's story is the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old businessman who is visited by the ghost of his old partner. Marley, with the help of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, warns him what his life and legacy will be if he doesn't change his ways.

Directed by Michael Perlman, this adaptation by William Leach has been performed as a one-man audio drama. It harkens back to the older tradition of radio plays in the 1930s and 1940s and is a great substitute for live performance. Those who purchase a ticket can simply log into the website and listen to the embedded SoundCloud recording.

PlayMakers has also made the script available, as well as a digital program. The show opens with a greeting from Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch before Ray Dooley takes the microphone. At only an hour and forty minutes, it would be the perfect thing to listen to while decorating or wrapping presents.

PlayMakers, like many theaters, has a long history with A CHRISTMAS CAROL. The founder of the Carolina PlayMakers, Professor Frederick Koch, started the tradition of performing it during the holidays. He did readings at UNC and across North Carolina.

Dooley first did this one-man show in 1998 and brought it to PlayMakers in 2017. His voice for the narration is very soothing and easy to listen to, while the voices that he does for all the different characters are impressively distinct. His performance is not only funny, but also genuinely moving.

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL, PlayMakers Repertory Company Dooley's vocal work is supplemented by sound effects, put together by Brandon Reed. They are used sparingly enough to not become distracting, while taking it a step above a normal audiobook. It's a very easy and engaging way to take in the classic tale, perfect for people who are familiar with it or for those experiencing Dickens's work for the first time.

Since its publication in 1843, there hasn't been a time when A CHRISTMAS CAROL wasn't relevant. And yet, in 2020, this reminder of the importance of being kind to those around you and of how greed and money cannot bring true happiness feels timelier than ever. It's a warning that caring more about profit than people isn't good for your soul, a good message for the holiday season and a good way to end 2020.

Ray Dooley's A CHRISTMAS CAROL runs until December 27.

Photo Credit: HuthPhoto


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