A Christmas Carol — straight up

publicity photo for a Christmas Carol

(Photo of Sanjay Talwar by Jam Hamidi)

For me as kid and even as a young adult, watching the annual TV appearance of the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol was a religious experience. I watched it every year, preferably by myself so that others who might be less devout wouldn’t distract me. I have sucked the life out of that text, which makes me a less than ideal audience member for Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s one-man Christmas Carol.

Sanjay Talwar delivers a hugely skilled performance, embodying almost 40 characters with crystal clarity. The Cratchit family Christmas dinner, which comes just off the top of Act 2, is his pièce de resistance. Talwar doesn’t just conjure all of the characters; savouring the plumminess of Charles Dickens’s text, he conjures the room, the clothing, the smells, the drama! Will Mrs. Cratchit’s pudding turn out? The two youngest Cratchits are everywhere! Every character has a distinctive voice: Bob Cratchit comes from London, but his wife’s accent is more northerly. And Talwar works the physicality: stillness for Tiny Tim, darting motions for his hyperactive younger siblings.

He keeps this up for the entire evening, which runs about two hours, including intermission.

Still, other than enjoying Talwar’s performance, including his understated spins on the text’s humour, I wasn’t particularly engaged. There’s theatricality in the actor’s transformations, and there are pleasing elements in Hans Saefkow’s set and Rebekah Johnson’s lighting but, conceptually, the evening offers no surprises.

Still, as I said, that’s largely on me.

If you want to see an actor doing a very fine job and if you’ve never had to go into rehab to get over a Christmas Carol addiction, this could well be the show for you.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL By Charles Dickens. Directed by Jacob Richmond. A Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre production presented by the Firehall Arts Centre at the Firehall Arts Centre on Thursday, December 15. Continues until December 24. Tickets and information

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About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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