Playwright Eric Pfeffinger’s comic send up of Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” is at the Bloomington Playwrights Project in a show called “Scrooge Variations.” The show is in it’s third year and the productions offers some updating and a few new variations as well.
Once again it’s a funny sort of futuristic, bureaucratic, bungling organization that is desperately trying to patch one computer glitch onto another to bring off the story.
This year’s production directed by Danielle Bruce features some trenchant comments on recent developments in the business world. Scrooge and his erstwhile partner Marley discuss, with glee, a string of business coups that parallel recent scandals. “Scrooge Variations” also has a woman playing Scrooge.It was a bit jarring when she visited herself as a young boy. But she’s a very talented actress with a delightful accent and her Scrooge carried the show despite obvious inconsistencies.
Marley, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Be were all welcome guests for the audience. The cranky Scrooge was far less welcoming and definitely not awed. Scrooge gave Marley’s ghost a particularly hard time, going so far as to ask for five pieces of identification. The miser queried the Past at length about just which past she represented. Present had to deal with a Scrooge who simply wouldn’t pay attention. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be got off a little easier, but just a little.
The very funny variation on the Cratchitt Family in “Scrooge Variations” was that they were presented in a sort of “Father Knows Best” vintage TV show. In a variation on another Christmas story, O’Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” Scrooge sold his watch for a crutch cover for Tiny Tim and Tiny Tim sold his crutch for a watch fob for Scrooge.
The show ended in a little under ninety minutes and it seemed to soon as the entire cast sang a chorus of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Eric Pfeffinger’s “Scrooge Variations “ at the Bloomington Playwrights Project plays this Friday and Saturday at eight and Sunday at two.