Review: A Christmas Carol (Humber River Shakespeare)

Toronto’s Casa Loma provides a festive backdrop for A Christmas Carol

On a snowy Tuesday evening I made my way to catch a performance of Humber River Shakespeare‘s A Christmas Carol. Having never actually been to Casa Loma in all my years living in Toronto, I was pretty excited to finally see it.

The castle looked magnificent with its Christmas lights and a generous dusting of snow. I walked inside and was pleased to see that the interior did not disappoint either. With polished baseboards and crown mouldings, ornate fireplaces, high ceilings, and Oriental rugs, the place was an almost too-perfect setting for this holiday classic.

The stage itself was merely a raised platform in the middle of all this old world charm. Nothing else was even necessary. With all creative elements combined, everything seemed to be in perfect tandem and Director Kevin Hammond was effective in creating a very vivid mise-en-scène for his audience.

As familiar as I was with the Dickens classic prior to this performance, I had never seen a stage adaptation of it before. With a small cast of only four actors I wondered how they were going to pull it off. For the most part, it was a success.

It was an extremely well-rehearsed production. Scene and costume changes were very quick and organized; blocking was sharp, efficient, and creative; the use of props was entertaining and fun; and the acting was skilled. All the sounds effects, from what I could tell, seemed to be without exception man-made which was very cool. I’m a sucker for things like that.

As the production went on, I was curious to see how they cast would manage to portray all the different ghosts. Some of them were the actual actors themselves dressed up in full-on ghost garb wearing interesting masks to cover their faces, and others were crafted marionettes guided by members of the cast.

My favourite performance of the evening was Christopher Kelk’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. As the villain of the play, he was somehow successful in getting the audience to empathize with him. An extremely natural performance, he was definitely a stand-out for me.

However, I thought that on the whole the production could have been sped up a bit. The pace felt a bit slow to me. In certain cases, performances seemed almost too theatrical and inflections were a bit unbelievable in some cases.

That being said, Humber River Shakespeare captured the spirit of the holidays so artfully and without imposition that I left the theatre that night feeling quite merry. I’m sure the rows of schoolchildren did too.

Details

  • Two performances of A Christmas Carol remain:
  • Tickets are $20.00 and $10.00 for children.
  • Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 416-209-2026.