By: Joseph Szalinski
It was the best of times…wait, no, wrong story. Let’s try again. ’Twas the night before…Gah! somehow more correct and less correct at the same time. One last try. Charles Dickens was dead, to begin with…for a while, actually, but that doesn’t matter because the talented Bob Colbert brings the celebrated author to life with an awe-inspiring performance as the scribe himself as he
narrates his famous holiday tale, playing all of the characters along the way, in Steel City Shakespeare Center’s latest production at the West View Hub, A Christmas Carol.”
Featuring a rousing demonstration of memory, among other things, Bob/Chuck hits all of the familiar plot points, as well as the parts most people pretend to remember, stopping only to wet his whistle before jumping back into the beautiful prose that would intimidate most performers.
For nearly two hours he delivers such an animated performance, one would swear that he’s a cartoon. In addition to impressive physicality, he further embodies the litany of literary Londoners by juggling a range of distinct voices and revolving costume pieces, an approach made even more entertaining when the text makes him jump from one character to the next in
rapid succession. A truly matchless act. Well, except for when he uses one to light a candle.
Speaking of props, and I do not mean the kind words written above, Colbert makes great use of a few accoutrements to heighten the experience, whether they be the aforementioned candle, rattling chains, or a multi-purpose cane that also plays more than one role. A simple assortment of even simpler effects that aid in immersing audiences in this festive fable.
The set is also quite simple, being composed of two chairs, a desk, and a coatrack. However, through utterly magnetic showmanship, the HUBWORKS stage is rendered into whatever scene required by the story. Despite being held in a rather intimate venue, this play contains a boundless amount of heart, humor, and horror that is certain to dispel any humbuggery harbored
by any unfortunate souls. Blurring the line between theatre and spoken-word, Bob Colbert’s masterful interpretation is sure to delight everyone. His rendition of this timeless classic would surely be loved by Dickens himself, whose ghost, one hopes, is in attendance every night, thrilled to have his feelings toward Pittsburgh dispelled; happy to know he has a simultaneous
immortality through his words which are used to bring a community together, making a good place to live even better, made possible by the efforts of a wonderful theatre company and an organization that champions the kind of charity the world needs to see more of.
A Christmas Carol continues today at 2:00 PM on December 10th at the HUBWORKS, 435 Perry Highway in West View PA. TIckets can be found here.