Bah! Humbug!

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The 2009 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree We have great sympathy for the Questors Theatre, a very large amateur theatre near by, that often provides acting and staging to very high standards. We’ve been members for over a decade (active at times), and always been actively promoting the theatre.

How embarrassing, however, to take a friend to this years’ Christmas production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

A traditional staging without any attempt to re-tell the tale in a way fit for children of the 21st century. We should have been warned by the poster, but even within the confines of the traditional interpretation, Questor’s A Christmas Carol failed to impress:

The tragedy begins with Ebenezer Scrooge, who is a far cry from being a bitter, angry, grumpy old man. He was in fact outright friendly and smiling from the beginning, and the occasional Bah, Humbug! didn’t change that.

The ghosts were laughably unimaginative, appearing in white (but ghostly illuminated) bed sheets, as Santa Claus, and all covered in black veil with the occasional ghostly waves of arms. I didn’t take the time to match their appearance with the book, and they might well match Dickens’ description, but I am sure one could have done a better job staging them, ghostly dress-code aside.

Rare exceptions aside, acting was below the usual standards, and only a few actors stood out with clear enunciation. Directions were unimaginative to say the least, and ill-advised when it came to balancing the sound levels of speech versus background atmosphere brought in from the tape. The best moment was certainly a morning scene when couples from the houses look out of their windows commenting, because the house on the left must have been the YMCA and the one on the right a house for fallen women (or maybe the suffragettes HQ).

Even the snowball fight failed to bring fun into the theatre: the stage children weren’t given real snow balls or any stage equivalent thereof, but had to mime it empty handed. This clearly took the fun out of it for them and failed to bring any fun into the auditorium.

The fun came back at the end, when the staging of snowfall brought in more than just a chuckle, as 1 1/2 small handfuls on white confetti rained down on a 3 square feet area in centre stage.

Too bad the best jokes of the show were all unintended.

For Questors and their ongoing quest to find and increase public recognition, one can only hope they’ll do better next year.

My applause goes to the many children in the audience, who sat very bravely and well-behaved through a 2 hour production that failed to bring either scare or fun into their lives,  sparkle into their eyes or Christmas Cheer into their hearts.


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