Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge celebrates the Christmas spirit

The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge (Eric Stuhaug)
The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge
Taproot Theatre
Through December 30, 2016

While everyone, likely, is overly familiar with A Christmas Carol and Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey, playwright Mark Brown has come up with a twist that actually has some funny moments in it with The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge. It sounds like Scrooge is on trial, but that’s not exactly true. In fact, a year after his life-altering visits by ghosts, it seems that crotchety Scrooge is back!

Scrooge (Nolan Palmer) has decided to take the Christmas Ghosts and Jacob Marley to court on charges such as trespassing, kidnapping, and assault! In a snappy presentation by Taproot Theatre, there are moments to chuckle at while some absurdities are on the docket.

Defense attorney Solomon Rothschild (Bill Johns) has all these clients to manage as well as Scrooge-like Judge Pearson (Steve Manning). In fact, the judge is more Scrooge-like than Scrooge in this version!


But the course of the trial is a sort of short recap of what happened last year, so…just like the regular story. Scrooge gets to assert that the Ghost of Christmas Past (an enchanting Anastasia Higham) kidnapped him after she trespassed into his locked home. And Jacob Marley (Robert Gallaher) is guilty of stalking him!

Rothschild calls witnesses like Bob Cratchit (also Gallaher), Scrooge’s sister Fan (also Higham), his nephew Fred (Daniel Stoltenberg) and maid Mrs. Dilber (Faith Bennett Russell) along with an assortment of others. (The actors play several roles each in most cases, with Russell bringing some of the most improbable fun with the randy maid!) The bailiff (Larry Albert) has to keep order of this chaos.

The script calls for running gags, including a major one for the bailiff, that run out of steam after one go. Mostly, it all feels fairly festive and funny, though not particularly innovative.

While I shall not spoil the small tidbits of surprise, the main thrust of the message is that “Christmas spirit” should not be saved up for only one day or even two a year. It’s a worthy message if a bit bombastically told. Taproot likes to try to do something different for the holidays each year, but there’s not a whole lot to choose from, so they’re repeating this from 11 years ago.

It’s a game production from director Scott Nolte, with beautiful (and silly sometimes) costuming as usual from Sarah Burch Gordon, inventive lighting from Kent Cubbage and spooky/funny sound design from Mark Lund.

It’s family friendly and at least you can laugh at Scrooge out loud, rather than chuckle under your breath. For more information, go to www.taproottheatre.org or call 206-781-9707.