A troupe of actors in 1940s London wanders into an abandoned theater where, amid the clutter, they find scripts for A Christmas Carol. Being actors, they decide to re-create the story, notwithstanding that each of them will have to play multiple roles and that they will have to use found items for sets and costumes.
The “cast” also uses masks and a puppet to help tell the tale, said Joe Bishara, who directs this adaptation of the Dickens classic for CATCO. The adaptation is by Patrick Barlow, who also did the adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps recently staged by CATCO.
“It’s a play within a play,” Bishara explained.
“It’s like an inside glance. That’s what really drew us to it. (CATCO is) interested in having a different take on the classics.”
The “inside glance” includes the characters – actors themselves – creating their production of A Christmas Carol on the fly.
“We’ll see them with their scripts. We’ll see them, as they’re playing multiple roles within a scene, think, ‘OK, well, how am I suppose to do this?’ ”
Among the found items is a marionette used to play the part of Tiny Tim. Actress Emily Turner operates Tim and gives him a voice, while playing multiple other roles.
“I had to get used to holding him at the right height and getting used to how to manipulate the controls so he moves properly,” Turner said.
“Then I went to work on his voice separately.”
Bishara said the special thing about this puppet is that, while he is supposed to be a found object in the play, he actually is a found object, located by the production’s puppet master Tony Auseon, who “chose to repurpose this vintage marionette.”
None of this treatment, however, is intended to obfuscate or detract from the source material.
“The wonderful part about this adaptation is that it still has the heart that families will know and love,” Bishara said.