A Christmas Carol at The Colonial Theatre
Something compels me to go to the Berkshire Theatre Group’s A Christmas Carol late in the run. I hear two powerful forces—exhaustion and nostalgia—in the actors. This latest performance had both of these. I sat first near the back of the hall. One could often hear sounds of approval, quiet sounds, surprise after surprise from the children in the audience. These sounds were in the air when the stage was distant. After intermission I sat in the third row, and I could sense palpably the camaraderie of the actors in their last performance. Eric Hill has built a version of the story which tells the tale smoothly, not wading through the usual bumps that adaptations leave. His willingness to listen on stage gave the whole production a flavor. Mr. Hill gave us a believable picture of his conversion, much of it done in silence. The actors who have been with the production, one or two years, or a good many years, were fully there, even in the last performance. There is much sadness in the tale, necessarily given real time in the stage version, in the dark spaces where the lonely Scrooge dwells. There are also the light and beautiful spaces in which singing heals it. Sadnesses remain. Tiny Tim does not die, but he has difficulty.
I saw in this elegant production a plangent balance between plenty and lack of plenty. Who is the happier? The rich man or the poor man? The show has a happy ending, if you like, but it has also an undercurrent of continuing poverty. Mr. Hill walked between these. His performance, as always, was gently understated—no bombast—”Bah humbug” spoken almost genially. He was a Scrooge I could believe in.