Chicago Theatre Review
Performing Tonight! 'Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs…" at Building Stage
By Devlyn Camp
Nearly 160 years ago, a great author began telling his most famous tale aloud for live audiences every year until now. Charles Dickens, author of A Christmas Carol, is now fed up with the annual tradition and ready to just take it easy.
This year he’s determined to just have a party with his friends. We’re all invited. He’ll greet you at the door, take your coat, offer you tea and scones and then he’ll start the party. Unfortunately for him, the Fates simply won’t allow a year to pass without his story getting dusted off. After a brief cold open-style battle with himself, he finally gives in to his classic tale and presents the title: Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Again.
Building Stage’s Artistic Director, Blake Montgomery has once again created and directed another show based on a well-known book. His previous play, Moby-Dick in its revival at Building Stage, received a Jeff Recommendation. Now Montgomery has also taken to leading his one-man show in addition to his normal duties. His Dickens character is quirky and playful, sitting with audience members and relating his novella’s spiritual horror through scary lighting and silly character voices. He pauses the reading often to provide a commentary on his words and jab at the writing with puns. For a one-man show based on an old and annual tale, Montgomery makes the story quite engaging.
Dickens clearly points out the common almost secret desire to skip dull traditions and just move on. In relating a story that originally revitalized the Christmas spirit as decorated trees and greeting cards were coming into vogue, Dickens understands that his book is now a part of those annual celebrations. Not to be forgotten, he reads through the final chapters with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come with much care and thought. On a similar journey with humbugging Scrooge, the author once again understands his meaning of tradition.
CHARLES DICKENS BEGRUDGINGLY PERFORMS…
The Building Stage
Through December 24, 2011
Tickets $22, available at buildingstage.com
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