“The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge” at Taproot Theatre

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Larry Albert and Steve Manning in The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

That unpleasant Mr. Scrooge evidently didn’t learn much when Marley and the Ghosts visited him so long ago and opened his eyes to the fact that he’d turned into a miserly, mean, unkind man. This play, directed by Scott Nolte, takes place some years after Scrooge’s encounter with Marley and the ghosts. We join Scrooge in court where he is suing those who tried to reform him.

Although he seemed to have learned his lesson that long ago Christmas Eve, he evidently fell back into his penurious, unkind ways. Now he wants to make those “do-gooders” pay for the emotional distress they caused him, not to mention that they broke into his home and kidnapped him. Does this not constitute a crime involving pain and suffering?

His case is heard in an elegant wood-paneled courtroom with handsome polished stone pillars separating the panels (designed by Mark Lund who also does the sound). Striking 18th C portraits line the wall above the paneling, and the judge (Steve Manning) sits magisterially far above the plaintive. The bailiff (Larry Albert), below and to the side of the judge is a delight as he scurries to the front of the stage and calls out in bellowing yet priggish voice each witness in turn. He gives the role a delightful panache.

Robert Gallaher provides a kind and gentle Bob Cratchit. He speaks well of his former boss, but under cross examination reveals that he had no real time off and that even on the coldest nights of the year only one coal was allowed for the office fire. Scrooge’s nephew reveals under testimony that his uncle refused invitations to festive dinners. The woman who sought funds for the needy testifies that Scrooge never gave anything. And so the testimony goes.

Nolan Palmer makes a wonderfully presumptuous Scrooge exhibiting outrage as he rebuts all the testimony. He did, after all, pay his taxes, he reminds the court. Then with barely repressed outrage, he calls attention to the fact that he was kidnapped. But things seem not to be going well for him. As each witness is called, the case against him grows. You’ll have to see it yourselves to learn how the trial ends.

One of the cleverest parts of the play is the wonderful way the playwright has incorporated Dickens’ own language within the script. This is a theatre piece that provides an unexpected yet delightful ending to Dickens’ dearly loved “A Christmas Carol. And this production does it full justice.

Through Dec. 30 at Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., Seattle, (206-781-9705 or taproottheatre.org)

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