Review: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. $26-$38. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300, Through December 24.
Rated 4.0

Buck Busfield’s adaptation of the holiday chestnut A Christmas Carol is a dickens of a story, but not a Charles Dickens of a story. Busfield has crafted a very meta musing, a play that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a play—and a snarky one, at that.

Scrooge (Greg Alexander, a great comic actor) begins by announcing that, yes, this is another edition of that annual “feel good” holiday fare, but he’s plenty tired of it. Miserable, miserly old man, three spirits (“which are not the same as the three ghosts,” he notes), the three ghosts, the redemption … well, you know the story.

But in Busfield’s version, you don’t know the story. No, this one takes on a hallucinatory aspect as people and places appear out of order and dreams become reality. Or do they?

Director Dave Pierini goes full wackadoodle on the story, embracing every comic element from slapstick falls to slamming-door farce. An ensemble of four (John Lamb, Amy Kelly, Kurt Johnson and Tara Sissom) portrays a multitude of characters.