I had no desire to see A Christmas Carol. I have seen and been in more variations of A Christmas Carol than I would ever like to admit. But Geffen Playhouse, you are a genius because probably like most of the other theatre people suffering from A Christmas Carol overdose...you lured me back through your twinkling patio with the mere mention of champion of the American theatre Jefferson Mays.
If I was going to see A Christmas Carol again, I was happy to be joined by my good friend and swiftly rising LA theatre director Jonathan. Over a preshow sangria flight a few blocks down at Napa Valley Grill, I learned that this was his first time watching a Jefferson Mays performance. I warned him to brace himself for greatness, that we were about to encounter a contemporary theatrical chameleon and Tony award winning guru of transformation.
I wanted to be underwhelmed. I had heard this story a million times; how could it possibly mean anything different tonight? But leave it to Mays to transport you outside of the world you think you know. Each of the familiar characters from this timeless story were brought to life with precise choices and energy. Most importantly, by maintaining the integrity of the text Dickens himself used when performing his stories, Mays delivers this timeless text to remind us of exactly why this story is timeless. The set and lighting design of this show should also be noted for their powerful effect in bringing a sense of the victorian-gothic world come to life.
After the past two years, and this year was especially rough, I think I needed this fresh reminder. I cried, remembering how the giving is better than the getting, no matter how big or small your gift. Remembering how “ignorance” and “want” distract us and make us feel that we’ll never be good enough. The show was a reminder to take on a bit of Bob Cachet’s attitude this holiday season, that when you feel like you have nothing, your gift is all the more substantial. For me, in a time when so many people around me are struggling, it made me reconsider what I can do to help those around me, in the theatre community and beyond.
What was our business, in life?
A Christmas Carol has just been extended through December 16 at the Geffen Playhouse, so if you want to see a true champion of the American theatre transform a text you thought you knew like the back of your hand, be sure to get your tickets now for Jefferson Mays’s captivating performance.