A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley 

Two and a half stars
Buck Creek Players; Directed by Ken Kern

Everyone knows this ghostly Christmas parable by heart, laying down a real challenge for players everywhere: to breathlessly deliver the familiar but ingenious Dickensian details as new, making audiences believe once more in boundless holiday cheer, deeply felt family affection and the possibility of redemption. Unfortunately, and in spite of Ken Ganza’s terrific Scrooge, this Carol drags due to playwright Israel Horovitz’s use of Marley’s ghost as narrator, loose direction and a poor set (no designer credited). Michael M. Jones does a very fine job as Marley, but his extended role, especially when he explains clock chimes to us, provides mostly unnecessary exposition. With Scrooge’s dimly lit office backstage left and his four-poster bed backstage right, there is a wide, murky expanse in between and not enough merriment to fill it. Old Fezziwig’s dance seems small and insignificant. Nephew Fred’s flirtatious Christmas dinner is merely alluded to. Rows of carolers file onstage for “Silent Night” and more, pretty Victorian Christmas card moments that stall the action more than they stir nostalgia. You may want to see this production for Ganza’s Scrooge alone. He is wonderfully mean to poor Bob Cratchit and the poor, in general; dotty with delight upon seeing his favorite childhood memories; and one ups Alistair Sim with some geriatric gymnastics. Through Dec. 21; 317-862-2270.

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