Reid Farrington’s A Christmas Carol starts off spooky. The Abrons Arts Center stage is lit by glowing candles, further hushed by red velvet drapes, a coffin stands facing the audience, with a shadowy head at its tip. Even before the production begins, I get the feeling that eyes from the head are looking at me. The audience is being watched.
The show starts with a moan, as the deathly face bursts to life, revealing actor John Forkner, the narrator of our tale. With perfect pomp and a dash of sardonic wit, he opens a large book to read this legendary Christmas tale of Scrooge. Holding the pages open toward the audience so we can see vivid projections of moving images, Forkner recites.
The story comes to life as Everett Quinton hobbles onstage as the miserly Scrooge, a character who is the antithesis of holiday cheer. Quinton is brilliant and unique, wearing a constant scowl that seems set in the very fibers of his face. He is his own Scrooge but many others, throughout the trippy performance, are projected over the characters’ faces on sliding screens and slates. From the Muppets to Bill Murray, multiple versions and enactments of the classic story are illuminated over the principal characters, creating both a feeling of vertigo and consumption.