To see a former staff member dressed as a third world baby, to laugh every ten seconds and to ruin any dramatic effect “A Christmas Carol” could ever have again, stop by the Lyceum this weekend before going home for the holidays.
But be sure to bring your own ending, because this play lacks resolution.
Marianna Savell, director of “Inspecting Carol,” stood on the stage and gave the usual spiel: no cell phones, thank you for coming, we had a lot of fun, and by the way, give us money.
A few minutes later, Zorah (senior Kelsey Roberts), director of an entire stage of bumbling fools’ “A Christmas Carol,” discovered she was broke and asked the founding members of the theater company to dig them out of the hole.
But the actors do not donate money. They focus all their energy on impressing Wayne (sophomore Jon Black), who they assume to be a phobic-Monk type of inspector from the National Endowment of the Arts.
Hopefully there was no theater inspector in the Lyceum audience opening night, because “Inspecting Carol” seemed like it still needed a few more rehearsals.
While every playhouse seeks out a new Christmas play, “Inspecting Carol” was not a Christmas play at all. It could have played at any time of the year.
The play was no doubt funny and had a few people clapping obnoxiously and gasping for air. Luther (freshman Katie Thornberg), who is the Tiny Tim not-so-tiny, wheeling around on Heelys, Dorothy’s (senior Michelle Upton) “take a lemon” routine, and Walter (Carlos Fernandez) coming on stage in ridiculous costumes are among the most memorable moments.
Yes, Fernandez, former Pastor of Worship Ministries, played the company’s affirmatively acted multicultural addition, whose mere attendance was a highlight.
And yet through this total hullabaloo, there was confusion and hardly an inkling of coherency.
But the most confusing was the ending, those eight seconds which determined many viewers’ opinions of the play overall.
During curtain call, some were mindlessly clapping while turning to strangers asking why on earth the actors bowed to the woman with a towel on her head.
And yet, the energy was so riotous that the audience could not help but laugh the entire time, even if they did not know what was going on.
As Sidney (senior Tim Lavino), who was quite a wonderful Englishman from Cleveland, stomped with his clanking chains and Larry (senior David Camarena) tried to change the script to fit with Tiny Tim’s emerging sexuality, the actors never paused to allow for the crowd’s laughter. Perhaps these unfortunately missed lines are why the audience became so lost.
Most of the performances were terrific, particularly Roberts with her natural presence and an almost refreshing composure so absent in the rest of the action. Amanda Haddox, who played M.J. the stage manager, was convincingly annoyed of the foolery, and rightly so.
But the overall production needed some polishing and perhaps another “take a lemon” exercise before the show to unite the actors in appropriate tone and energy.
If you want to see a Christmas play, stick with the classics. If you want to laugh at the classics, see this play, but only if you don’t mind puzzlement and mayhem.