The Porters of Hellsgate Presents Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol: The One-Man Play.” Adapted and Performed by Gus Krieger. Directed and Designed by Drina Durazo.
I bloody love Dickens…it seems particularly apt for The Porters of Hellsgate to produce this classic one-man play, given that they are at the end of their very impressive journey through the entirety of Shakespeares canon.
Charles Dickens is England’s other favorite writer and as much a character himself as was Shakespeare.
Charles Dickens was famous for his touring, reading excerpts of his work to audiences all over England and even touring the US. He was one of the first “celebrities” in fact. I’m not sure what he would have made of the Kardashians but the popularity of his work enabled him to become a philanthropist and a huge supporter of the poor and destitute.
“A Christmas Carol” was written with a passion for the horrors of the class and economic divide in England and is said to be one of his favorite books. And while he wrote it, acting out each character as an actor would, he “wept and laughed, and wept again.” He did perform it himself in later years on his reading tours and I like to think he’d be tickled to know that this tradition has been continued by so many brilliant actors and such luminaries as Sir Patrick Stewart on Broadway.
Gus Krieger is a master of flitting from character to character and light to darkness. I saw his “Breaking Bard” a few years ago, a Shakespearean take on “Breaking Bad,” in rhyming couplet…just extraordinary. I long for them to re-visit it!
The “A Christmas Carol” story is of course a bit different, but requires no less focus and just as many almost magical transformations to hold the audience captive. It’s a simple production, a few props, a few slight costume additions and the occasional lighting effect. But I think this is the best approach to Dickens. It’s all about the characters after all. They are what pulls us through the story, they are what propels the plot and keeps us on the edge of our seats.
The narrator is Dickens, the characters are the best and the worst of humanity…all trying to survive.
It’s a brilliant and very thoughtful production. No flash, no parody, no overplay. Very little English accent…a bit, just enough actually. This never bothers me at all, in Pinter, in Shakespeare, in Dickens…all these stories are universal and the purpose of theatre is not to imitate but to illuminate. Always better to do this in one’s own voice I think.
I loved it. I held my breath, I squirmed in my seat, I shed a few tears and I ached for my homeland and its fierce ownership of Christmas and all its Dickensian traditions. Are those mince pies I smell??? I wish.
If you love Christmas then do yourself a huge favor and see this play. It reminds us what our lives should really be about – family, friendship, kindness and, above all, Dickens!!!
Bravo to Gus Krieger and all the lovelies at The Porters of Hellsgate. A Merry Christmas to you all!!!
Running December December 6, 13 and 14 at 8pm, and December 15 at 2pm
The Whitmore Lindley Theatre, 11006 W Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601