God Help Us,
Star Bar Players send up Scrooge
Colorado Springs Independent, December 2, 1999
It's hard to believe there's still an
audience out there for yet another treatment of A Christmas
Carol, hands down the most torturously overproduced play of the
millennium. On the other hand, few things are more welcome than the
chance to tear apart a classic for your holiday pleasure.
The Star Bar Players offer a fun-filled
evening at the expense of Dickens' time-tested characters, turning
the story on its head as it suffers the indignity of a local theater
company production in this play-within-a-play. The show's primary
shortcoming is its central plot device of mistaken identity -- since
the audience is in on the secret, it's hard to accept the foolish
bungling of the misinformed characters, but the device simply sets
up the comic possibilities of shredding the original script, and
that's where the fun lies.
The strongest performance onstage comes from
Mark Hennessy in the role of Wayne Wellacre, a wannabe actor who
uses a 30-day bus pass to shop his talents around to every theater
within walking distance of a Greyhound station. Hennessy is
hilariously horrendous as the inept actor, and as he worms his way
into the role of ghost, playwright, directing consultant and
not-so-Tiny Tim, we live through a director's worst nightmare. John
Miller warms into the role of Larry, the actor playing Scrooge,
although he stumbles through his delivery early in the play. Miller
captures Larry's disaffection and his desire to contemporize the
play after too many years "pulling our punches on Tiny Tim's
sexuality." Much of the second act's comic momentum depends on
Miller, and he aptly meets the challenge.
The production has its share of "artistic
deficits," but the ever-present sound of Marley's chains rattling
offstage and a few confused lighting cues are easily passed off in
the "I-meant-to-do-that" realm of the disaster within the play.
Ultimately, the onstage festivities make "one hell of a splash" and
an evening of catharsis for theatergoers.
-- Owen Perkins