A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley

At the Granada Theatre, Saturday, December 20.

Susan Kelejian as the Ghost of Christmas Present looks over the shoulder of James Sutorius as Scrooge in<em> A Christmas Carol</em>.

It’s never too late for that eminent Victorian, Ebenezer Scrooge. This Janus-faced symbol of greed and redemption has been waking up to find that it is still Christmas Day for 165 years and, entering the 21st century, Scrooge shows no sign of tiring. In his miserly incarnation, Scrooge has even spun off copycats. After all, what is the Grinch but a Scrooge in Seuss’s clothing? The Granada’s current version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has found a great Scrooge in James Sutorius, and a distinctly macabre Marley in James Brodhead. Together, they push this production deep into the psyche of its protagonist. Their quest to explore Scrooge’s inner life is at times aided (and at times derailed) by a production that mostly misses the mark set by its leads and text.

The first character onstage is the ghost of Jacob Marley, and Brodhead delivers his essential narration in a deep, clear voice, wearing a costume of a deathly greenish pallor that brings to mind the work of Vincent Price. Sutorius declaims Scrooge in an even more impressive manner, showing the tremendous vocal capacity that has put him at the top notch of America’s classical stage actors. The opening sequence at Scrooge and Marley’s firm includes the crucial character revelations of Scrooge’s first soliloquy, but in this version it felt scattered and abrupt, failing to ignite the story’s Yule log-like prophetic glow.

The staging depended largely on an elaborately choreographed use of flys and projections. There were times when it all worked wonderfully, and others when the projections lapsed, leaving the audience distracted by a giant panel filled with the all-too familiar Windows boot screen. Some of Scrooge’s night travels were vivid, others not. The revelation of the child monsters Ignorance and Want was genuinely chilling, and as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Susan Kelejian was sufficiently otherworldly. With the projections implying that we were inside Scrooge’s head, there were moments when Sutorius’s presence onstage seemed superfluous as he stood by silently, 10 feet from the action. The tale of Scrooge and Marley has been told here, but a sense of separation between these two and the rest of the cast lingers


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