Monday, November 28, 2016

REVIEW: The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge

Nolan Palmer, Larry Albert and Robert Gallaher (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)
THEATRE
If you are like me, you’ve seen your share of various renditions of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol from The Muppets to Mister Magoo. Some versions are better than others but they all pretty much tell the same story. The idea of seeing yet another Scrooge story may not appeal to you, but I think I might be able to change your mind.

Taproot Theatre is currently presenting Mark Brown’s TheTrial of Ebenezer Scrooge which definitely borrows elements and characters from the original story, but retells it from Scrooge’s point of view and with some hilarious results. (That sounds like a sales pitch, but seriously, this is one funny play)

The play begins one year after the three Christmas spirits and the spirit of his old business partner, Jacob Marley, visited Ebenezer on that fateful night and with Scrooge being Scrooge, he’s taking them to court! The charges? Trespassing, kidnapping, assault and battery.

Larry Albert, Daniel Stoltenberg and Faith Bennett Russell
 (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)
The audience actually plays a role in the production as well serving as the audience attending the trial. They are expected to stand during the “All rise!” when Judge Stanchfield R. Person (Steve Manning) enters the courtroom. The prosecutors are Solomon Rothschild (Bill Johns) and Ebenezer Scrooge (Nolan Palmer) who is representing himself because it is cheaper that way. You may recognize the voice of the bailiff who is played by Larry Albert as he has appeared on Imagination Theatre, the radio play show on KIXI Radio 880. His role is small, but he makes the most out of it.

Taproot favorite, Nolan Palmer, makes for a perfect Ebenezer Scrooge with just the right amount of sarcastic wit (“He’s as sharp as a tennis ball, that one.”) He’s back to his Scroogey self as both he and Rothschild put various characters from the original story on the stand. Other Taproot favorites, Robert Gallaher and Faith Bennett Russell play multiple roles. Gallaher plays both Bob Cratchit and is almost unrecognizable as the ghost of Jacob Marley while Russell plays Mrs. Cratchit, Sara Wainwright and Mrs. Dilber, but perhaps her best performance is playing the translator for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come since she speaks “ghost.” It’s a fantastic scene when the ghost is brought to the stand. He stands about seven or eight feet tall, has bony hands and is intimidating. At one point, through the translator, he explains that he is cold, so the bailiff offers him his red scarf which he wears for the remainder of the scene. If you are not familiar with Palmer, Gallaher or Russell, you owe it to yourself to seem them in action. Fortunately, as good as these actors are, they don’t over-power the play or steal the limelight.
Larry Albert and Steve Manning (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)

Daniel Stoltenberg plays the Scrooge’s nephew Fred, who is the polar opposite of Scrooge and Anastasia Higham has the challenge of playing back-to-back roles of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge’s sister Fan and former girlfriend Belle.

Directed by Taproot co-founder Scott Nolte, The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge should not be missed as it is not only an amusing comedy, but it also shares a message of goodwill and serves as a reminder to us all about what it means to have the spirit of Christmas in your heart all year long.

The play continues through December 30, 2016. Moreinfo>>>