Estella (Betsy Wolfe) runs Bleak House, a big, bad company that pinches pennies everywhere it can. Your company is not even going to properly insure their assistant, Tiny Tammy’s sick child, with their “silver dollar plan”.
When Estella returns to her hometown to build a mall, a hotel must be demolished that will be a haven for the troubled, poor and lost. She says she helps those in need to help themselves with new jobs (“Food Service!” “Maintenance!”). It’s a wonder Ayn Rand doesn’t show up. “She is the oligarchy!” explains a hotel resident who describes Estella as a “pickpocket in a trouser suit” … also known as a capitalist.
After all, Estella represents the worst in the United States, where big business takes precedence over human life. (When Scrooge tells the tortured ghost of his old partner Jacob Marley that he was a good businessman, the ghost declares, “Business! Mankind is my business!”) In Scrooge I see an entire nation that does not protect and honor the living under the thumb of rich old Ebenezer.
Do you remember what the spirit of the Christmas present was hiding under his luxurious robe? It’s not included in some versions, although it made the cut in most of them. Scrooge spots a gaunt hand belonging to a child, one of two under the robe that the spirit says belongs to Scrooge and all humanity: one is ignorance. The other is want. They are our offspring, our plague, and Scrooge shrinks from them in horror.
This year we faced our spirits and counted on our responsibility for the people around us. This story goes beyond Dickens and Scrooge and beyond the Christmas season – it is now and forever, each of us for the other, if we can hope to be together happily one day.
A Christmas song (Geffen Playhouse)
Available until January 3rd; achristmascarollive.com
A Christmas song (Milwaukee Rep)
Available until December 24th; milwaukeerep.com
A Christmas song (Goodman Theater)
Available until December 31st; carol.goodmantheatre.org
Manual Cinema Christmas Story
Until December 20th; manualcinema.com
Available at estellascrooge.com