Amidst 1840s London, a man hurries through the streets trying to figure out the plot of his next book, which will come to be known as A Christmas Carol. In the world premiere of the play based off of a novel by the same name, Seattle Repertory Theatre brings us a compelling story of Charles Dickens struggling to write a Christmas-themed book in order to save his finances. The show has many timely messages about how we overlook relationships for currency and material items when we are asked to do something that is stressful or mentally draining. The show has many good parts but some issues with the narrative execution.
As usual, Seattle Repertory Theatre does not disappoint with the costumes and dynamic scenery. It is a colorful stage that is well-lit. You can easily tell the mood through the coloring and the scaffolding-like structure that serves as a home, toyshop, and flat and moves in a circular fashion which really pleased me and was something I hoped for. I also enjoyed each actor's performance, even those of the child actors. The accents were well-crafted and all went together. I especially enjoyed the performance from Basil Harris, who played Mr. Bumble of Bumble’s Toy Shop. He was comedic, had a range of good accents, and was sarcastic when needed. One pleasant final touch to the experience was the immersivity of the lobby. There were carolers as you entered dressed in Victorian clothing, singing carols like Jingle Bells. Upon entering, there was an old-fashioned armchair with a picture of a chimney with a crackling fire which people could take pictures by. It made the show seem so put-together, and I wish more Seattle Rep performances had something like this. All of these factors made the show so enjoyable to attend, even with many of the show's shortcomings.
Unfortunately, there were several weak points. While the actors did a top-notch job, the play went on for just too long. I got antsy and bored. In fact, one person seated around me even fell asleep, and I can very much sympathize. Despite the fact that it was too long, I missed several key plot points, simply because they moved through them too quickly. I couldn’t hear them due to the low volume and over-rushed plot. The show never brought these plot points up again, despite the importance they held to the show. I guess you could say that even though I went to a show about Charles Dickens, I missed the Twist.
Overall, the actors get 4 out of 5 for their performance, and the production team members get a solid 4.5 out of 5 for their artistic contributions. The play was put together very well physically and was mindfully throughout. I enjoyed watching the actors put on the show, and it was amusing with lots of dry, British humor. I only wish it had been shorter, better developed and paced, and a little louder. My advice I leave you with is see the show if you have a little extra time during the holidays. It's most definitely spirited with lots of talent; you just may have to sit through a lengthy show that needs a bit of editing.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol took place at Seattle Repertory Theatre on November 25 - December 23, 2022. For more information see here.