Hallucinating on Broadway
I’m not a Dickens fan, and agree with Trollope that Dickens milked popular sentiment to great financial gain. A Christmas Carol ranks high on Dickens’s exploitive list: loving poor innocent family cruelly bled dry by heartless rich guy, which makes for a teary story, so of course everybody from Alastair Sim to The Muppets have done a version. (The Muppets’ version is quite enjoyable because of the performances by Michael Caine and Ms Piggy.) As for the plot, I share Alan Behr’s opinion,
The film, based on the classic business training manual by Charles Dickens, presents a unique problem In the seven years since the death of business-partner Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge has struggled to keep his London concern competitive in an ever-changing market. Robert Cratchit, a disgruntled clerk, takes advantage of his company’s vulnerability during the make-or-break fourth-quarter selling season to demand an immediate increase in vacation time.
Marley’s Ghost then appears, advocating a reworked business model. The interjection of the supernatural is a clever device by which the filmmakers illustrate a shift in paradigms in the face of a labor action Ebenezer skillfully buys off the agitator with the gift of a turkey. That will assure Cratchit’s loyalty–or at least his attendance–through the close of the quarter, after which Ebenezer will be free to can him.
But will he? Surely not until a suitable replacement is found. (See the companion work on outplacement, Apocalypse Now.)
Needless to say, several years ago, when a friend called me saying “You must go see Patrick Stewart do A Christmas Carol on Broadway”, I was rather underwhelmed. I wasn’t all that impressed by him on film or TV. My friend went on: Her daughter was a big PS fan, and watched all the Star Trek: The Next Generation shows, so her daughter had dragged her to the show. The last thing I wanted to do was to pay Broadway prices for sitting in on a Trekkie/Trekker convention. My friend, who really really didn’t like Star Trek, finally convinced me, particularly since she knew I love solo shows, and I’m ever grateful that she did.
Patrick Stewart’s solo show was absolutely excellent. He dressed in (what looked to me like an Armani) perfectly tailored brown suit, wore soft shoes, used a few props on an otherwise bare stage, and narrated, no, lived, each character to perfection. His DVD version of ACC is nice and he did a good job, but the live solo performance has to be one of the best I’ve ever enjoyed. He had every person in the audience, old and young, hanging on to his every move and breadth. You actually saw each separate character, even when your brain told you he was alone on the stage. For the Fezziwig’s party particularly, he populated the stage with dancing people, all from your imagination.
Indeed, Stewart had me (and the rest of the audience), hallucinating. He used the hallucinatory skills later on, at a lecture he gave at The University a couple of years later, but that’s a story for another post.
Thank you, Mr. Stewart.
(PS, while the IMDB says PS is 5′ 10″, I’d say he’s more like 5’8” – but never fear, he’s very attractive, particularly when dressed in charcoal-grey Armani. As another friend said, “For a short, bald guy in his sixties, he’s hot!”)