If a one-man carol seems like sheer humbug, try the relative luxury of Jack Thorne’s “A Christmas Carol” at the Old Vic, directed by Matthew Warchus. (A version played on Broadway two winters ago.) This production, taken from an empty theater, stars Andrew Lincoln as Scrooge. Thirteen other actors help with his transformation (oldvictheatre.com, until December 24th). Or consider the magic of manual cinema that tells the story with hundreds of paper dolls and silhouettes (manuelcinema, com, through December 20th). Or close your eyes while the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future appear via audio in “A Christmas Carol on Air” at the American Conservatory Theater, which is recording the theater’s popular Christmas production and adapting it for radio (act-sf.org , on request until December 31st).
Christmas stories, retold
This season, many companies have retrofitted familiar stories to better reflect the themes of an unknown year and offer comfort or the opposite. Let’s start with what a story like “Twas the Night Before Christmas” leaves out. Do you really think it’s funny Saint Nick who rules how to hand out all the presents? As a gentle correction, the Little Angel Theater in North London is offering a free online puppet show “Mother Christmas” in which Mrs. Claus organizes the parcel delivery (available on YouTube). Do you prefer a darker vision of the Christmas story? Try “Krampusnacht”, a live virtual reality experience that promises to reveal horror under that red suit (krampusnachtvr.com, through December 27th).
Elsewhere, visionary director Mary Zimmerman reinvents Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” for a wordless, bewitching livestream hosted by the Lookingglass Theater Company (Lookingglasstheatre.org, until December 27th). And Kitchen Zoo and Northern Stage are reworking another Andersen story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, into a cockle-warming vacation story of two fashion-conscious scammers (northstage.co.uk, through December 31).
The Christmassy industrial complex is mighty, but for those looking to counter-program Hanukkah, the Untitled Theater Company has redesigned their children’s theater show “Playing Dreidel with Judah Maccabee” for remote viewing. An actor connects with a young person in your household via Skype, Zoom or phone to experience a time-traveling, dreidel-playing adventure (untitledtheater.com, until December 20th).