Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

An Adobe Christmas Carol

The Adobe Theater
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Dean's review of DeliKateSSen

Graphic courtesy of the Adobe Theater
Like most people in the English-speaking world, I grew up watching A Christmas Carol every holiday season, usually on Christmas Eve. It was usually, but not always, the 1951 Alastair Sim version in crisp and luscious black and white. Never got tired of it. I read the story and watched countless versions, some true to the original story, some fanciful take-offs.

As the holiday seasons marched through the decades—some happy, some blue—the Charles Dickens story had a place in my life nearly every year. For a few years when my kids were young, the 1988 Scrooged comedy with Bill Murray took center stage on our Christmastime TV. My kids were also quick to pick up on the cartoon versions, from Mr. Magoo and The Muppets to the Flintstones. Mickey's Christmas Carol was a particular favorite.

Like Christmas songs themselves, new versions of this story keep showing up. Each fresh version renews the story while also reminding us of the richness of the earlier versions, just as new renditions of "The Christmas Song," no matter how wonderful, serve to reveal the brilliance of Nat King Cole's version.

The reason so many of these versions of A Christmas Carol reach us is that the unrelenting story of selfishness and redemption. Why do we care about Ebenezer Scrooge? We're not like him. Why do we care about the possibility of his redemption? We don't need to be redeemed. Yet the truth in the story touches us. So, yes, we do recognize our own need for redemption in Mr. Scrooge.

Peter Parkin, the director of An Adobe Christmas Carol at the Adobe Theater, based his adaptation on an experience in the 1980s when he was working at a theatre in North Hollywood. The building was in an area populated by the homeless. In 1984, the theatre invited the homeless in for a reading and acting out of the Dickens story.

This was so moving that Parkin decided to simulate the story. The setup for An Adobe Christmas Carol is a bunch of homeless people wander into an empty theatre to find shelter and warmth. They also find a script for the Dickens tale as well as costumes and props. So off they go into the story. One of them begins to read aloud, and the rest of the bunch begin to act it out.

One of the setups that works beautifully in Parkin's adaptation is the presence of the storyteller. It brings the tale into our world while also preserving some of the quaint 1840s London. Well, maybe not too quaint—they did have poor houses, and Scrooge approved of them.

This is a lovely and intimate rendering of A Christmas Carol. The 13 actors range in age from 11 to gray, and they all do a solid job. Neil Faulconbridge as Scrooge is particularly strong. He stands out partly because Scrooge is such a rich role. Faulconbridge acts with his face, showing the wide range of emotions, from grumpy to woke. The story is interspersed with Christmas carols, which is a nice touch. The set and props by Linda Wilson are modest, adding to the show's intimacy.

Hats off to Parkin for offering a fresh twist on one of the greatest stories in the English language.

An Adobe Christmas Carol runs through December 22, 2019, at the Adobe Theater, 9813 Fourth St. NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. General admission is $20. Admission for seniors, students, and ATG members is $17. For reservations, call 505-898-9222. For more information, visit