Vagabond Production serves up charming ‘Christmas Carol’ with dinner in Dover – Entertainment & Life – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH
By Jeanné McCartin
Posted Dec. 11, 2014 @ 2:01 am
The setting is an authentic Victorian dining room – a real one, not staged.
The fireplace is lit and tables are set for 20 or so with linens and chargers.
After appetizers are served, guests are greeted by Charles Dickens and soon after haunted by his three Christmas ghosts as they dine on a five-course meal.
Both the setting and the arrangement of Vagabond Production of New Hampshire’s “A Christmas Carol,” presented at the Silver Fountain Inn in Dover, has a sprinkle of holiday magic; dinner theater done up with a bow.
The intimate setting intensifies the tale as the audience witnesses, up close and personal, as Charles Dickens, its own specter of Christmas, narrates and brings each scene to life.
Undoubtably the inn lends a lovely atmosphere to the affair. But it is the gravy atop its meat and potatoes: the adaptation by Director Lesley Hamlin, her clever use of the space and the largely wonderful performances.
Hamlin brings her characters through the room’s three doorways, including the outside entrance, and adds a special surprise reveal. The lighting is simply what the room offers. But again, Hamlin uses what she has to her advantage, turning different locations on and off to construct ambience.
She understands the play’s essence and has a great eye for its characters; no razzmatazz but plenty of pizzazz.
Justin MacDougal is perfect as Charles Dickens; his demeanor is authentic, his rich, velvet, expressive voice exactly what the character calls for.
Tim Robinson is Scrooge, a part he’s performed many times and distilled to perfection. Robinson’s Scrooge is crotchety and marvelous, sans Hollywood shtick, but all you could ask for in character.
Tomer Oz’s Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, is authentic and touching, and Stan Zabecki delivers two distinct and notable performances as Marley and Old Joe; everything about the direction and this portrayal is right.
And so it goes, with the cast collectively offering a delightful version of the tale.
The smart costuming, a group effort, adds authenticity and interest.
The simplicity of this direct piece, using only the inn’s furniture and a few props, is fitting both the heart of the story and the setting. Coupled with a fine meal set in a period location, it’s a charming way to launch the season.
Word is the production has sold out; give a call and hope for a cancellation. It’s worth the effort.