“Inspecting Carol” at Seattle Repertory Theatre

In Daniel Sullivan’s “Inspecting Carol” a down and almost out theatre company makes a desperate last-ditch effort to survive bankruptcy by mounting that old favorite, “A Christmas Carol.” But oh dear! They really aren’t very good. Their production is plagued with problems. The cast lacks real talent; the set and costumes are tacky. To make matters worse, a program officer from the National Endowment for the Arts is due at any moment to conduct the review that will determine if they get the grant that is their only hope for continued operation.

Though things don’t bode well for them, this Seattle Rep production  is a sparkling holiday gift to Seattle audiences. Here I must make a disclosure. This has been my favorite Christmas show for some years. I love farce, and earlier in my career I was a program officer at NEH, the Arts Endowment’s sister agency. Thus I came to this production with a propensity to love it. And I did.

It’s nonsensical, riotous, and meticulously acted. The cast works like a well-oiled machine, quite unlike the hapless actors they portray in the play within the play.

The first act is a set-up for the second act where all hell breaks loose. There absolutely nothing works well or as expected, and that’s the joy of it. It’s rowdy farce, precisely paced, full of surprises and some not-so-hidden social commentary. Kudos to Jerry Manning and his sharp direction.

There are two lessons to be learned here, ones you’ll appreciate only when you see the show. First, you’ll get a whole new appreciation for lemons, and second you’ll realize that jumping to conclusions can have disastrous result.

Through Dec. 23, at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle in Seattle Center, (206 433-2222 or www.seattlerep.org).

Leave a Reply