A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Carol Follies – 2009

Recently, the Capital Hill Dramatists Quorum Productions premiered their annual presentation of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. The story is so familiar to every student of English literature by now — a greedy, tightwad capitalist in early Victorian era England is given one last chance to redeem his soul on the holiest of Christian holidays. This year’s production was tweaked a bit by director Karl Rove as he attempted to keep the proceedings interesting with off beat casting and a few script revisions.

Many fans of the original were not surprised that the role of Ebenezer Scrooge was given to radio host Rush Limbaugh. Given Limbaugh’s long opposition to government helping society’s downtrodden, his assumption of the role was seen as an example of Rove’s type-casting. Ah, but this is precisely where the genius of the choice lay!

Limbaugh towered over the proceedings with a genuine conviction that it really was his money that Bob Cratchit (ably played by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) was squandering in the coal scuttle. True, Limbaugh is no Alastair Sim, but who else would you trust with the line, “If they would rather die, they better do it and decrease the surplus population.” Surely Dickens had Limbaugh in mind when he wrote this classic prose!

Then there is the casting of newcomer Barack Obama in the role of Tiny Tim. Otherwise an outstanding orator, Obama has relatively few lines to display his command of the English language. This despite the fact that Tiny Tim has a pivotal role in the drama. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he delivers his lines with a wonderful conviction of Tim’s sweet innocence and naiveté. Still we have to acknowledge that Obama has a hard act to follow: the role of Tim during the last eight years was played by George W. Bush. No one can say that when it came to being naïve, George W. Bush was truly, naturally gifted.

The casting of these lead parts - and that of House Leader Nancy Pelosi in the role of Mrs. Cratchit - certainly raised a few eyebrows in the opening night audience. Yet Rove wasn’t done as he next updated Dickens script to make this year’s presentation more relevant and memorable.

First there was Scrooge’s balking at the charity collectors in Act One. In Dickens Victorian Era the line was “Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?” Now, in 2009, Limbaugh ad-libs, “Is there no Medicare? Is there no public option?” with a dismissive snort.

Then there is the Ghost of Christmas Future, portrayed not as the specter of Death, but as four hauntingly cloaked figures! Rove has given us a delightful visual pun, an entire Death Committee to drive home the final lesson which Scrooge must learn. However, the director does not take sole credit here. Rove graciously acknowledges big game hunter Sarah Palin as the inspiration for this casting in the show's program.

Oh, the production is filled with so many surprises and very little to carp about. I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderfully mute cameos of Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter in the roles of Ignorance and Want respectively. Then, of course, there is the climatic scene in which Scrooge renounces his greed and pledges to help little Tim overcome his handicap. In a truly stirring moment of the production, Limbaugh raises Tim’s cane high above him - and although his overall temperament would lead one to believe he will bring it down on Tim’s head — Dickens dialogue serves the moment well. Only then will everyone truly believe that it is a Merry Christmas for every one of us.

The production will continue throughout the holiday season in the well of the Senate and other undisclosed locations in the Capital region.

(Thank you for reading. Any resemblance between the actions described in this review and an actual theater production are wholly and purely coincidental. Please remember to stamp out humbugs wherever and whenever possible.)


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