[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of A Noise Within’s production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted from the novel by Geoff Elliot, co-directed by Julia Rodriguez–Elliott and Geoff Elliott, and running through December 24.
There’s nothing so Christmasy as A Christmas Carol. Indeed, Christmas doesn’t even begin until I’ve watched this timeless story in one version or another. There have been many films of course, old and new, musicals and thinly veiled remakes and homages. But the original book is the best by far and A Noise Within’s version, adapted by Geoff Elliott, is a word-for-word mirror of the novel, first published in 1843. The always timely themes of redemption and the terrible treatment of the poor were drawn directly from Dickens’s own life. As a child his father was committed to debtor’s prison and at 12 years old he was forced to pawn his books, leave school and work in a shoe blackening factory under awful conditions. The experience inspired many of his books and his life’s work, his fight to end poverty, debtor’s prison and child labor.
The story is iconic…I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t know it, or love it. How incredible that such an exquisite piece of literature should become a tradition of all our Christmases and for the brilliant A Noise Within to make it one of theirs.
This is the 11th year in fact that they have faithfully recreated the novel on stage, rediscovering it each and every time. And even though I know it so well I could have delivered many of the speeches myself, I found myself deeply moved by this production.
It almost goes without saying that this profoundly excellent company would make an already magical story all the more incandescent and mesmerizing and yet it was still beyond my wildest expectations of how perfectly presented this story could be.
The cast is superb. Every single performance nuanced and heartfelt. No slipping into caricatures or cheap tricks. Each character is fully formed, sweetly wrought and tender. Even when Scrooge is at his most brittle and bad we can still sense his loneliness and feel his pain. I know we all consider this story to be one about an evil man who gets dragged kicking and literally screaming into redemption. But it’s much more interesting and real than that. Scrooge is broken. His once kind soul is abandoned and twisted by life and circumstance and by a series of regretful choices and wrong turns taken. Who of us cannot recognize ourselves in him in some sense? And the story is so much better when we can see that “who but for the grace of god go I.”
I cannot recommend enough this beautiful imaginative and achingly funny production of A Christmas Carol. I laughed, I wept, I was transported and enchanted by this wonderful wonderful play.
A Noise Within has the luck of a gorgeous theatre to invent in and entertain us. The soaring ceilings give them the scope and the room for anything they can imagine, including enormous swings and vast lengths of chains and towering god-like ghosts. They create a truly incredible world for us to see and the actors to inhabit, the evocative and beautiful staging elevates an already wonderful story.
To do A Christmas Carol justice requires a poet’s soul, and the co-directors Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott have the courage to delight in that and surround themselves with actors with talent enough to fulfill their charge.
Bravo to all at A Noise Within!! If it were 1848, I would be calling down from my bedroom window to a raggedy street boy to tell everyone to see the show, but since it’s not…I will be emailing instead!
A Noise Within
3352 E Foothill Blvd.Pasadena, CA 91107
• Tickets start at $29
• Student tickets start at $18
• Saturday, Dec. 2: Pay What You Choose starting at $10 (available online beginning the Monday prior to that performance)
• Discounts available for groups of 10 or more
• Appropriate for ages 5 and up (babies and toddlers not permitted).
• Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission.