A twisted treasure

A Christmas Carol

Rated 5.0 As they do every Christmas, the three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future pay a visit to the miserly, selfish, self-centered, covetous old sinner Ebenezer Scrooge in hopes of transforming the dastardly old miser into a champion of the Christmas spirit. Along with Bob Cratchet, Jacob Marley, Belle and even Tiny Tim, Cosumnes River Stage turns back the clock to that cold, dark, forbidding Christmas Eve when one of the greatest Christmas tales ever told unfolds: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

But if you’re expecting a scene from merry old England, proper costumes and traditional sets, you’re in for a shock—or a pleasant surprise—when half of the actors are dressed as clowns, and the stage is all but bare, save for a wooden bed that assembles and disassembles right before your eyes. Performed in the style of classic commedia dell’arte (a colorful, 16th-century Italian style of improv-oriented traveling comedy), this version of A Christmas Carol incorporates jugglers, musicians, singers and tumblers to create a magical and fun-filled twist to a time-tested Christmas treasure. Directed by Frank Condon, the production features quick-paced scenes with never a dull moment, perfect for keeping the children’s interest. Loren Taylor is a perfect fit in the role of Scrooge and joins a well-placed cast in making this a grand addition to this year’s holiday theater presentations.

The production also shows what can be done with a little imagination, using a minimalist set, dramatic lighting and properly timed smoke effects. The sounds of Marley’s mournful, ghostly wails echoing through the theater are enough to send a shiver up anyone’s back.

A commedia dell’ arte Christmas Carol may be just what the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future order for families this holiday season. Great for the kids and even better for the kids at heart. And as Tiny Tim observes each year at this time, “God Bless us, every one.”