30 December 2006

Charles Dickens performs A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens performs A Christmas Carol
Eagles Nest Theatre

December 2006
Carlton Courthouse

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through The Courthouse
There was room for no more, not even a mouse.
The people had gathered for a great Christmas tale
Zachariah’s Dickens proved too good to fail.

The Eagle’s Nest Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens performs A Christmas Carol should be on everyone’s holiday list next year.
I admit I was hesitant to see a solo reading of a clichéd tale. However I stand totally corrected and could not have been more wrong. The night was as perfect as Mrs Cratchett’s pudding.

Over 150 years ago Charles Dickens gave solo readings of his own works. Accounts of the time attest that they were theatrical events with Dickens performing every role to perfection. Under the strong direction of James Adler, Phil Zachariah has channelled the spirit of Dickens and created one of the most engaging, powerful and suspenseful nights of theatrical story telling.

The audience were not the usual La Mama/Courthouse crowd. These were people who wanted to see this play and this story. When I arrived, there were already disappointed people being turned away. Those who made it in were more used to the comfort of The Arts Centre and quite disturbed by the crowded and hot Courthouse. However within five minutes of starting, every member of the audience was transfixed.

This was due to the outstanding performance of Zachariah, and the outstanding writing of Dickens. There is a reason this is one of the most re-told tales. The original story is filled with surprises and complexities that are missing from most modern versions. It’s so much more than a parable about the value of people over money. Scrooge is forced to see his on life from an outside perspective. This is, of course, an irresistible yet terrifying prospect. Dickens tells us that own lives and experiences contain the answer to all our questions– if we look in the right places.

Hopefully this crowd may be brave enough to return to the Courthouse to see more independent productions, and hopefully, the venues that this crowd usually visit will grab this unforgettable production for next December and allow it to be seen by many more people.

This review originally appeared on AussieThearte.com.

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