LA Weekly

L.A. Weekly - November 28-December 4, 2003

Jeff Goode's gothic Victorian tale of Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge's deceased business partner in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, traces major turning points in his life that transformed both him and his protégé, Scrooge, into heartless misers hated by all. Most unusual about the production is the environmental setting inside the Hollywood Forever Cemetery's Mausoleum and outside among the grand tombstones of the old Jewish section. The graveyard provides a chilling ambiance for the opening scene, Marley's funeral, attended only by Scrooge (Bob Clendenin), a Reverend (Todd Sible), a deaf-mute Gravedigger (Ahmad Enani) and the Gravedigger's Wife (Emma Barton), all of whom Scrooge refuses to pay. In an amusing scene, Marley's ghost (Keythe Farley) must be convinced by a fearsome-looking, tattered, pantomiming Phantom (Richard Augustine) that he's actually dead. Finally, Marley's brought into the Mausoleum, where he's sentenced to walk the Earth in chains for eternity by a Gigantic Spirit (Johanna McKay), a 20-foot-tall cone-shaped judge who recalls the queen in Alice in Wonderland. Goode ingeniously pieces together the back-story of Marley and his nephew, Bob Cratchitt (Matt Ford), leading up to the scene in A Christmas Carol where Marley's ghost haunts Scrooge's bedchamber. Circle X Theater Company at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (use Gower Ave. gate entrance at Willoughby), 6000 Santa Monica Blvd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 20. (323) 461-6069. Written 11/26/2003 (Miriam Jacobson)