Join Jared Reed in our third annual candlelit reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with original music by Drew Petersen. Originally produced by Curio Theatre Company in West Philadelphia, Jared has crafted the piece from the reading version enacted by Dickens himself.
From the Broad Street Review By Mark Cofta for the 2018 Production at Hedgerow Theatre
A Christmas Carol is the most produced show in the nation, with at least 40 professional productions this year, according to American Theatre magazine. Most are large-cast celebrations featuring cheery spectacle and familiar carols, including Hedgerow's, the yearly Walnut Street Theatre musical version, and McCarter Theatre Company's annual extravaganza.
However, solo performances exist. Patrick Stewart has a nice one, available on DVD. But for a live performance in an intimate theater, Reed's can't be beat.
What it really is
Reed appreciates that Dickens's 1843 novella is both ghost story and time-travel tale; most large-cast adaptations flatten and soften these aspects. It was not written for children, who haven't experienced enough of life to internalize Scrooge's regrets and realizations. Moreover, though Dickens helped to reinvent Christmas as today's blockbuster event, his story barely mentions Jesus, the birth story, or that Victorian invention: Santa Claus.
In a neatly edited version, just 80 minutes long, Reed tells us the story, voicing every character with clarity and economy, clipping along as British actors often do (and Americans often don't) in an English accent.
What I recall about this version 10 years ago was its simplicity and honesty. We never know or think about who Reed is, except the storyteller. He's dressed in a somewhat Victorian jacket and top hat but wears khaki trousers. He shares the story with little embellishment and no editorializing.
Reed's adaptation provides a more thoughtful, grounded, and personal telling of the familiar story, inviting us to conjure the supernatural events in our imaginations and to experience Scrooge's transformation with him. Reed appears like a ghost — lighting a match on a dark stage with his first words, "Marley was dead." He then exits, spiritlike, by extinguishing his candle, rewrapping the old tale as a theatrically eerie experience.
Sure, share the happy, colorful spectacle of most productions of A Christmas Carol with the kids. It obviously keeps working. Immersion in Dickens's words via Reed's expressive yet soothing voice, however, provides existential chills and spiritual thrills that make a fine Christmas gift for adults.