Sunday, 2 November 2008

Charles Dickens- A Christmas Carol, Nov 2-16, 2008

Charles Dickens = A Christmas Carol 
By Eagles Nest Theatre
The Speigeltent, Victorian Arts Centre, 4pm Nov 2 & 9, 2pm Nov 16, 2008 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Nov 2, 2008
Stars: ***1/2

Phil Zachariah performs Charles Dickens’ famous morality tale, A Christmas Carol, alone but he cunningly peoples the stage with Dickens’ characters. The stage is empty but for a wooden lectern at which Zachariah sometimes stands to read a leather-bound book. All this is reminiscent of the manner in which Dickens read his own work for the public.

The narrator’s voice is ever-present in Dickens’ writing as a commentator upon characters and action and Zachariah uses this narrative voice to effectively evoke the entire environment of A Christmas Carol. Dressed in a formal tail coat and sporting a Victorian beard, Zachariah transforms from  the whining, wizened, old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, into the parade of characters that surround that old niggard.

The changes between locations and characters are swift and efficient, reminding us of the skill and magic of a great theatrical storyteller. Bob Cratchett’s poor home and meagre Christmas feast are vividly depicted and his tribe of children, including the ailing Tiny Tim, come to life. The streets and houses of Dickens’ London are skilfully described to us with Dickens’ words and Zachariah’s resonant voice and characterisations.

By Kate Herbert

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