Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
All my expectations were exceeded by Lawton's emotionally charged performance and the intelligent script. This is not a Christmas Carol for children, but it is great theater. Stripped down to its most fundamental elements (there are no sets to speak of and Lawton is the only actor), Dickens' classic story is dark and unexpectedly wrenching. Lawton speaks from a distinctly modern point of view, but the contemporary references are restrained and well placed, creating a sense of urgency without being distracting or gimmicky. Lawton gives each character he embodies emotional depth while keeping the overall story crystal clear.
One of my favorite moments happens when Lawton steps out of character (or should I say characters?) to explain why Scrooge's "Bah humbug" is actually a pretty nasty expletive. We are reminded that Scrooge is not a hapless old man in a nightgown, but a vicious curmudgeon whose avarice ruins lives. In the sequence that follows, Lawton gets a big laugh, keeps the audience engaged, and offers an authentic insight into the iconic Ebenezer Scrooge.
In the end it is Lawton's ability to reveal so much about a story we thought we knew so well that makes this production, with sound design by Christopher Colucci and set and lighting design by Thom Weaver, remarkable. It is certainly bleaker than what we are used to, but delving into the depressing aspects of the tale makes its redemptive ending more meaningful than ever.
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol runs through December 29, 2019, at Lantern Theater Company, Proscenium Theatre at The Drake, 320 S. Hicks Street in Center City Philadelphia PA. Tickets are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at 215-829-0395.
Original adaptation by Anthony Lawton
In collaboration with Christopher Colucci and Thom Weaver