Theatre Review: Their Heart Was in the Right Place


Note: This review was posted on the KC Stage review system.

A Christmas Carol: An Urban Cautionary Tale, written and directed by Lori Lee Triplett (based on the book by Charles Dickens). Produced by Imago Dei (Kansas City). First produced 2010. (Seen November 13, 2010.)

Imago Dei’s production of A Christmas Carol is an odd beast. An updated version of the well-known tale by Dickens, the script does some interesting things such as making both Scrooge and Cratchit as women and making Scrooge a slum lord willing to evict on Christmas Eve.

Modernizing the tale gives the story some resonance in today’s world of near-Depression-like economic conditions and the polarization of political parties. Scrooge’s refrain of “Are there no workhouses?” easily becomes “Are there no government programs?” And I admit, having had to move myself this past year because of a landlord who’s reaction to my asking for lower rent for a while due to becoming unemployed was basically, ‘Why should I care that you lost your job?’, there were times when this tale hit a little too close to home.

Valerie Dykes (as Abbeneazer Scrooge) and Calista Baker (as Barb Cratchit) both do fairly good jobs in their respective roles, especially with their scenes together. Director Lori Lee Triplett is hit and miss in her three parts (with the biggest miss being her accent as Officer Gonzales, which slips in and out) — but, from what I understand, Triplett lost some of her cast before opening and so may not meant to originally play these parts. In fact, one of my minor issues is that that the Granada, where Imago Dei’s shows are produced, is too big of a stage for such a small cast — but that unfortunately comes about when it’s a true community organization.

My main criticism of the show is that the show was too long, which most of it could have been resolved if the pacing picked up. Somewhat combined with that, the break for intermission was in an odd space — after Scrooge’s transformation -0 making Act II feel like mostly filler as it was primarily dénouement.

As the title of my review states, Imago Dei’s heart was in the right place with this piece, and I look forward to seeing what they become capable of once they find their footing.

A Christmas Carol: An Urban Cautionary Tale closed on November 13, 2010.

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