Michael Bergeron
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Ghosts of Christmas

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It’s time to revise A Christmas Carol. The ending is just too happy. Charles Dickens most famous story is a time-honored story, perhaps the most prominent novel of the 19th Century. Maybe it’s a bit like saying Hamlet has a bummer ending and needs to be reassessed for a fifth act where Hamlet and Ophelia walk hand in hand into the sunset. It’s a reflection of our curious reality.

The Alley Theatre has presented A Christmas Carol annually for nearly three decades. This year’s production offers a play you can see, feel and smell. When the actors light a lantern, you smell the kerosene. When ghosts appear dressed in white, you can sense their otherworldliness. This presentation under the direction of Alley regular James Black blinds the audience with bright strobe lights that shine directly in their eyes to signal the end of the first half.

Ebenezer Scrooge bahs and humbugs his way through life. A flashback scene establishes that his hard take on life was shaped when as a young man he lost the love of his life. Over the period of one night various ghosts visit Scrooge. My personal favorite has an axe protruding through her neck (the ghost of Mary Stuart). This experience literally transforms him from a vicious old man into a kindly soul. A giant clock suspended over the two-story stage propels the action on an hour-by-hour basis.

If you need some much needed cheer to enliven your holiday spirits A Christmas Carol will no doubt supply that nog.

“A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas” runs at the Alley Theatre through December 29. Additionally, the Alley presents another holiday perennial The Santaland Diaries in the intimate Neuhaus Theatre, which runs through December 31.