Reid Farrington's A Christmas Carol

1/4
Photograph: Paula Court

Abrons Arts Center. By Charles Dickens. Directed by Reid Farrington. With John Forkner, Laura K. Nicoll, Everett Quinton. 1hr 25mins. No intermission.

2/4
Photograph: Paula Court

Abrons Arts Center. By Charles Dickens. Directed by Reid Farrington. With John Forkner, Laura K. Nicoll, Everett Quinton. 1hr 25mins. No intermission.

3/4
Photograph: Paula Court

Abrons Arts Center. By Charles Dickens. Directed by Reid Farrington. With John Forkner, Laura K. Nicoll, Everett Quinton. 1hr 25mins. No intermission.

4/4
Photograph: Paula Court

Abrons Arts Center. By Charles Dickens. Directed by Reid Farrington. With John Forkner, Laura K. Nicoll, Everett Quinton. 1hr 25mins. No intermission.

Whatever your holiday tradition, there is one ritual we all share—dozing in front of a TV gone mad with Christmas episodes. It’s irritating and affecting, disorienting and familiar all at once, since overheard sentiment and a flickering, half-ignored screen are shorthand for the entire season. But perhaps you like drowsing to jingle bells? Then sled over to Reid Farrington’s A Christmas Carol, where director Farrington creates his own awkward multimedia lullaby. His strategy is to tell the Dickens tale through a repetitive, spliced-together chorus of a dozen cinematic Carols. The acting trio of Forkner, Nicoll and Quinton waltz precisely on the black stage, dodging behind sheets or whipping up handheld screens to intercept the constant barrage of projections. Thus our Scrooge (Ridiculous Theatrical Company treasure Quinton, wasted and obscured) snarls his humbugs from behind many “faces”—Patrick Stewart, a silent chap from 1910, even that old skinflint McDuck.

The optics can be strong, but Farrington needs to develop his ear—for both sound and the rhythms of performance. His abilities as a video designer hamstring him, and visual technique swamps content and impulse at every turn. Perhaps the artist (who also made the similarly stultifying The Passion Project) will someday graft a bit of complexity to his YouTube-supercut aesthetic, and such virtuosity won’t be so profligately thrown away. I hold out little hope, though—the season of miracles is past, and all a grumpy critic can do is clank her chains.—Helen Shaw

Event phone: 212-352-3101
Event website: http://abronsartscenter.org
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