Review | ‘A Christmas Carol’

ETC Brings the Laughs and the Holiday Spirit to Dickens’ Classic

Louis Lotorto, Regina Fernandez, Mark Capri, Jenna Cardia and Bo Foxworth star in the ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY production of “A CHRISTMAS CAROL,” adapted by Patrick Barlow, directed by Jamie Torcellini and now playing at the New Vic Theatre in Santa Barbara. | Credit: Zach Mendez

Ensemble Theatre Company welcomes the holiday season with a deliciously ridiculous version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Directed by Jamie Torcellini, this Christmas Carol is a campy, oddball version of the yuletide classic, complete with a baffled Scrooge breaking the fourth wall, a hilarious Tiny Tim, and an unhinged spirit of cockney Christmas Present. This adaptation for the stage, by Patrick Barlow, had audiences in stitches watching Scrooge, giddy in his maleficence, do the emotional grunt work of becoming a better man.

For those unacquainted with Dickens’s tale of redemption, A Christmas Carol is about Ebenezer Scrooge, a moneylender in 1840s London. He refuses to recognize Christmas, and delights in his malicious attempts to dampen the seasonal cheer for everyone around him. He is visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet-to-Come, who show him scenes from his life designed to make him rethink his cruelty.

Ensemble’s Christmas Carol features five actors: Mark Capri as Scrooge and Regina Fernandez, Bo Foxworth, Louis Lotorto, and Janna Cardia, as everything else — including ghosts, chairs, a ticking clock, the rest of the human characters, and, most humorously, Foxworth as the production’s various small children. With this level of character turnover, there’s an air of chaos just below the surface of the action that gives the production a breathless, tightrope quality; but this group of actors pulls off all the quick switches and changes without a hitch. Tiny Tim — a life-sized puppet whose tendency to stroke peoples’ faces and walk comically slowly — elicited raucous laughter from the house. The comedy style is very English, and a little stupid, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of British buffoonery to make the holidays merry. Ensemble’s A Christmas Carol delivers a weird and wild ride through the spirit of the season.

Ensemble Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol is playing through December 18. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here

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