Boxcar Theatre gives us something special with Jeff Garrett’s one man Christmas Carol, ‘The Haunting of Ebenezer’

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: 4/5 » Highly Recommended)

(“The Haunting of Ebenezer” plays at The Boxcar Theatre Studios on Hyde Street, December 12 through 30.)

Director Peter Ruocco and actor Jeff Garrett have accomplished something wonderful with “The Haunting of Ebenezer”.

There is a long tradition, dating from amateur actor Charles Dickens himself, of actors performing the classic Christmas tale as a one man show. With its many vivid characters, charming description and brilliant plotting it can be a tour de force for the right actor. This season in San Francisco, Jeff Garrett is the man.

Jeff Garret is Scrooge in "The Haunting of Ebenezer." Photo Credit: Boxcar Theatre.
Jeff Garret is Scrooge in “The Haunting of Ebenezer.” Photo Credit: Boxcar Theatre.

From the moment he appears on stage, delivering the famous opening (“Marley was dead to begin with”) the audience will know they are in good hands. He never hesitates or stumbles, but moves deftly through a series of characterizations, magically transforming his voice and his body from the smallest child to the portly old charity solicitor to Scrooge’s booming nephew.

And then, of course, there is Scrooge himself, that “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner”. Mr. Garrett does not disappoint whether he is bellowing his “bah humbug” or celebrating his redemption.

At one point, Mr. Garrett even successfully impersonates the London fog, creeping through the streets on Christmas Eve.

It is altogether lovely, nicely tuned by Director Peter Ruocco, who keeps the pace appropriately varied. The set is minimalist in the extreme: a few Christmas lights, a stool, a barrel. Yet you will swear you have seen the streets of London, Scrooge’s bed chamber, the homes of Bob Cratchit and the nephew, the slums, the cemetery and the bright crisp light of Christmas morning, not to mention a host of characters. And they do it all in one act.

“The Haunting of Ebenezer” is the first production at Boxcar’s new second theatre on Hyde Street and it is a stellar premiere.

We don’t often get a chance to see such fine acting in such an intimate setting. For further information, click here.

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“The Haunting of Ebenezer”, a solo performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” produced by the Boxcar Theatre, designed and directed by Peter Ruocco, starring Jeff Garrett.

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