At Christmas bald is cozy, is probably a wishful idea for most people. Christmas is also political, materialism, turning the right side to the darkest days of the year. But also the holidays in which the desire for fellowship becomes stronger than usual. A holiday that can soften even a stony heart. Perhaps the heart of Charles Dickens’ old Scrooge, or Ebenezer Knug as he is called in the Kilden production in Kristiansand.
The story of Ebenezer Knug is the story of the old stingy man who doesn’t celebrate Christmas and doesn’t understand why anyone else does too. A kingdom without friends that doesn’t care about the fate of others. In the story, he is approached by the ghost of his former business partner. He is warned to live life only for the sake, because that is regretted in the afterlife.
To prove this, the companion sends three Christmas ghosts to Knug that night. Through glimpses of the past, present and future, Knug explains that you choose who you want to be. And that what you do not only affects your own life, but also others.
Criticism of Materialism
Actor Henrik Rafaelsen makes his directorial debut with the family show «A Christmas story» in Kristiansand. He’s aiming high where he gives life to arguably the world’s most played Christmas show.
Rafaelsen begins the play with an extensive critique of the materialistic Christmas. The stage is wrapped, as it were, with cotton wool in the form of a few cubic meters of plastic snow. Surrounded by four pianos is what looks like a traditional English street choir. The expectation that they will vote in one Christmas carol, a traditional English Christmas carol, is in the air (after all, “A Christmas Carol” is the original title of “A Christmas Tale”). Instead they sing “Black Sinking Night”, Lucia’s song.
As the song progresses, the pianists begin to throw Christmas presents at the choir kids, who of course receive, play, and grab. The beautiful Italian folk tone is slipping in favor of large gifts wrapped in neon paper. And suddenly it stops. Ebenezer Knug has taken the stage.
Knug is played by Ulla Marie Broch, and it must be said that portraying a very old man is a good choice. Broch has precise timing, a rich comical touch and a wide range of expression. Like Ebenezer Knug, she can actually afford to go for a little more. The role is good, but the direction leaves room for even more flexibility, especially from the start of the performance. When the jubilee about the joy of Christmas finally comes, it could very well draw on a slightly sharper old man from the beginning of the play.
The source’s “A Christmas story” constantly surprises with the use of tools. The past plays out like a silent movie on a screen, the future like a shadow theater. The pianos are used during the performance: Dickens’ Christmas story from 1843 is followed by both Claude Debussy and Franz Schubert. While these composers weren’t quite contemporary with Dickens, the music pulls the performance in the right direction given the old-fashioned twists the characters use in the piece. And it adds a lot of pathos.
In contrast, today’s Christmas spirit is played by Jenny Ellegård. She is definitely the highlight of the play. This Christmas spirit is a wonderful mix of aunt and uncle and a solid foundation. Everything can be repaired according to today’s Christmas spirit, but you have to do it soul. She offers surprises that are simultaneously exciting and terrifying, mixing old and new in a beautiful game. She is the one who makes Knug think for himself.
Packed in cotton wool
The criticism of materialism from the start of the play is gradually being hidden in the hundreds of thousands of snowflakes that the characters encounter on stage. Instead, it’s replaced with quick but fun fixes that will ultimately save Christmas.
The silent film and shadow theater solutions are good – at least if the voice chorus gets more precise. Now some text disappears along the way. The companion is also experienced as undelivered. It has a tremendous effect, including when using voice, perhaps against the goal.
The difference between rich and poor in Dickens’s story is less prominent in this performance. The poor families look like style-conscious high school students from Oslo: cropped fringes, hockey seams, shorts, high-necked sweaters, blazers that are a little too short on the sleeves. It may be an attempt to portray Norway’s invisible poverty.
That piece is doing well, that’s how it thematises accept goodness.
During the breathless visit, Knug gets to put a fly on the wall at a Christmas party he has refused to attend. Then he hears how he is described. It could have been the world’s grossest backbang, but is instead a respectful mention of someone you disagree with. It gives Knug confidence in people. And here’s the contemporary mirror that we should gaze at with curiosity: are we talking about others in ways that we can be confronted with and still have a straight spine?
“A Christmas story” lags a bit behind every now and then, but at bestIt will be a performance that tells us something about the time in which we live.
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