Overview: A Ham’s ‘Christmas Carol,’ With out the Honey Glaze
It ought to, and never simply because the movie, streamable via Jan. 3, is vastly efficient as spooky leisure. (It could even be too intense for some kids.) Based mostly on Dickens’s touring model of the story, itself barely altered from the printed textual content, this “Christmas Carol” is essentially the most fearsome I’ve seen — I imply morally fearsome. It’s thus essentially the most trustworthy to a narrative that’s not merely concerning the miserliness of 1 man, however, doubtlessly, of all mankind.
So though there may be loads of ham right here, beginning with Mays’s snarling, paranoid Scrooge, whose decrease lip hangs right down to the left as if to offer an exit ramp for his bile, there may be nearly no honey glaze to sweeten it. Most “Christmas Carol” diversifications depend upon that honey, simply as theater firms that produce them every November depend upon ticket gross sales generated by a well-known, “beloved” work they will market as household leisure to finance the remainder of their seasons. Even the spectacular manufacturing from the Previous Vic in London, streaming Dec. 12-24, makes the story as festive as it will possibly, typically by pelting it with meals and music.
Not so with this model, tailored by Mays and Arden and Susan Lyons and conceived by Arden and the set designer Dane Laffrey. For one factor, it insists on emphasizing the act of storytelling, whether or not Mays is reciting the textual content as a vigorous however impartial narrator or portraying, seemingly concurrently, all of the characters in a scene.
As he demonstrated in “I Am My Personal Spouse” and “A Gentleman’s Information to Love and Homicide,” Mays is an astonishing quick-change artist. A heartier timbre offers us Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, in a flash; a flinging of fingers makes an excitable youngster.
Even within the non secular world, it takes only a shift of shade from the lighting designer Ben Stanton and a few elevated reverb from the sound designer Joshua D. Reid to finish Mays’s leap from tormentor to tormented in Scrooge’s confrontations with Marley’s ghost. The opposite ghosts are rendered with equally efficient theatrical illusions, together with shadows and puppetry by James Ortiz.
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