Ah, the holiday season, with shopping, school and church pageants, Christmas trees and sparkling lights, and performances of "A Christmas Carol" in every theater and television station in the world. Are you tired of Scrooge? And the ghosts? And Tiny Tim?
If so, the CAN-ACT theater group in Nampa has the antidote to Dickens' terminal sweetness: A Christmas Carol ... more or less, running for four more performances upstairs at Karcher Mall. This is a very different version of the Victorian classic, with a modern romantic twist and more laughs than Dickens could ever have imagined.
It's an economical show, with a cast of two actors, real-life husband and wife Camilla and Mark Boylan, and an energetic cameo appearance by Dorraine Denney at the play's end. The basic set was built by Randall Webster, and includes a view of the cluttered "off-stage" costume and prop area. The nervous director, Sarah, is pacing backstage and checking her watch, when her husband Charlie arrives with the news that the entire cast of the annual Christmas Carol show has been snowed in at a ski resort. He also drops the devastating bombshell that he is leaving Sarah and their child to pursue a more lucrative profession than running a small community theater.
But the audience is waiting, and Sarah, though furious with her husband, is a trouper. The show must go on. She blackmails Charlie into doing the show, with him playing Scrooge and her playing--well, all the other roles.
You get the idea. In hilarious, classic three (er, two) stooge style, Sarah whips into costume after costume, drags furniture on and off stage, changes the props and wears a dizzying variety of hats, while her hubby sits placidly in his nightgown and cap, reading his part. The Boylans are an entertaining twosome, with Camilla animated, forceful and bubbly, and Mark calm, sarcastic and prone to underplaying his part, with a George Burns-type of sharp, dry line delivery.
Camilla throws herself into the many parts with frenzied abandon, donning a wig with bobbing corkscrew curls, wrapping herself in Marley's chains, wheeling ghosts on and off stage on a dolly and crashing into walls in her haste to change characters. Yet through all the laughter and fun, the charm of the favorite Christmas story shines through, enhanced by the personal story of Sarah and Charlie that weaves its way into the Dickens' script.
The main problem with the show may be the lack of a director--a third person to sit back and analyze the action and its effects. The Boylans seem to be trying too hard to be funny, when the show itself is ludicrous enough to deliver the nonstop humor. Without diluting Camilla's tremendous energy or slowing down the action, a director might have given a focus to the production, so the theatrical couple could have a more professional edge, in spite of their frantic situation.
Nevertheless, it's a funny, lighthearted show, filled with joyous silliness, mysterious happenings and a warm Christmas glow. Dickens would be pleased.
A Christmas Carol ... More or Less, by Stefano Lo Verso and Mary Irey, directed by the cast. Dec. 15-17. Tickets are $8. for Thurs. at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.; $7 for Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. CAN-ACT theater, upstairs at Karcher Mall, Nampa. For reservations, call 442-0676 or online at www.can-act.org.