Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Stage adaptation by Tony Brown
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight
(Lowell, Massachusetts) Megan Sandberg-Zakian’s production needed a larger cast. Three hard-working actors struggled to carry this Christmas story, which Charles Dickens populated with nine very diverse characters. These actors paced the small stage quickly switching between accents and affectations, to communicate to the audience that they were presenting a different personality, and it ended up being an evening of too much talk. At one point when my eyes were glazing over, I asked myself if I were in a comfortable lull or if I was just bored. Then during intermission, I overheard a fellow patron say that she hoped she did not fall asleep during the second act. So I had my answer: She and I were just bored.
However, I wish to think about this story differently. I wish to perceive the adaptation of this novella with appreciation, definitely not forgiving the infinite flaws of this particular production, but if only because I appreciate literature. The literary ambience cushioning Dicken’s story is intrinsically a mellow vibe. Scrooge is an elderly man, and this is a tale about Scrooge’s examination of his life; an existential activity that is typically passive, private, and quiet. At some point during the second act, I understood that any sympathetic patron would need the patience of a reader in order to enjoy Scrooge’s ramblings.
When it comes to Megan Sandberg-Zakian’s production — in case you are not a devoted reader — I would suggest going into the Merrimack Repertory Theatre with your expectations lowered to the level of a staged reading that is occasionally paused for a Christmas carol. Additional props would definitely have aided Sandberg-Zakian’s production. The set was so basic and uninteresting, I can’t even recall if there was a grandfather clock. Maybe give Scrooge a bed. The production seemed lazily under-produced.
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.
Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD