CHARLES Dickens’ much-loved “A Christmas Carol” is one of his most well-known stories, which has also had several film adaptations over the years, including a musical version.
It’s the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, who changes from a bitter old miser to a man of happy generosity after learning the error of his ways on Christmas Eve through visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
“Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” focuses on the ghost of Christmas Past – his deceased partner, Jacob Marley.
Marley, it seems, has gone to a spirit world where he has been required to sign a contract to promise to make Scrooge see the error of his ways. He maintains an uneasy relationship with an Irish sprite who seems to be supervising him. A narrator steps in occasionally to keep the story clear. All characters are played by Craig Alexander in a very physical, amusing performance of great intensity.
Director, Shelly Higgs, has given the show a minimalist production which works very well. It is referred to in the program as ‘a show in a suitcase’ where everything used – lights, props, set pieces – all can fit in a suitcase. The use of all these bits and pieces is quite imaginative and enjoyable.
Until Marley’s first appearance to Scrooge as the ghost of Christmas Past, the show works well, detailing a back story for Marley that is quite interesting and entertaining. After that point and continuing into the second act, Marley seems to become more of an observer of the remaining incidents in “A Christmas Carol”. His continuing presence then seems irrelevant and contrived.
There really isn’t anything else to say that Dickens hasn’t already said in his original story and Marley is just not interesting enough to justify making him the central character here.