The title character in “Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol” was dead, but that didn't keep him from turning in a lively performance by the Oklahoma City Theatre Company. Tom Mula's play, based on the story by Charles Dickens, was performed on a nearly bare set, with minimal props, in the intimate, underground City Space Theatre at Civic Center Music Hall.
The lack of props and a conventional set helped the four cast members emphasize the wonderfully theatrical elements of Mula's offbeat, “storytelling theater” approach to the Christmas classic.
Tall and commanding, Don Taylor was terrifying but tentative — and humorously too easily discouraged in early scenes — as Marley's ghost, trying to win his own freedom as he learns to haunt Scrooge.
After intermission, Taylor's Marley was memorable as a “ragamuffin lad,” taking his ex-partner on a giddy, Peter Pan-like flight back to his own, more disturbing “Christmas past,” rather than Scrooge's.
Clad in a long green coat, Taylor also succeeded in embodying Christmas Present's need to bless everybody he hadn't noticed before, including Scrooge, as he becomes “engulfed in the spirit of Christmas.”
Nearly as delightful as Taylor was the sprightly and engaging, yet nuanced and understated performance of Carly Conklin.
Cast as Marley's “bogle” (Scottish for specter), Conklin seemed to both lightly mock and become increasingly sympathetic to her charge's often inept efforts to learn the ghostly ropes.
Scott Hale made the most of his supporting role as Scrooge, bringing the right miserly intensity, giving way to growing uncertainty and concern for his redemption and the welfare of others, to the part.
Jeni White brought a nice Kafka-esque dimension to the overly officious and punctilious but ultimately good-hearted and well-intended Record Keeper.
Winning us with its poetic and at times almost Hieronymus Bosch-like flights of poetic storytelling fancy, as well as its performances, the production, directed by Doug Van Liew, is highly recommended.
— John Brandenburg
‘Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol'
• When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 23.
• Where: Civic Center Music Hall's City Space Theatre, 201 N Walker.
• Information: 297-2264, 812-7737 or www.