Over the weekend, I saw the play, “A Christmas Carol” for the first time in my life. The production I saw was at Ford’s Theatre and runs through January 2, 2012. As this was my first time seeing the show, I went into the experience with a skeptical mind- I’m not the biggest fan of the Christmas holiday, so I was looking forward to identifying with the Scrooge character. Instead, I concluded that Charles Dickens’ story could actually be viewed as being pretty dark. I could definitely imagine, “A Christmas Carol” being retold with either zombies or with real, spooky ghosts, much like the movie, The Exorcist.
I’ll begin with the three ghosts that Scrooge encounters on Christmas Eve. In the Ford’s Theatre production, when he meets the first ghost, Scrooge is laying in bed and his bed spins maniacally in circles for a minute or so. If that night terror wasn’t influenced by The Exorcist or maybe even Beetlejuice, then I would be truly surprised. (Like this, only faster, and scarier.) The first ghost that Scrooge meets is the ghost of his past business partner, Jacob Marley, as seen in the above photo. We aren’t treated to much else besides the spinning bed from Marley’s ghost, however, because he is just there as the introduction to treat us to the real fun of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
The Ghost of Christmas Past can be seen as possibly the most haunting of all the ghosts. In the story, This ghost takes Scrooge back in time to see what his life was like growing up. In the past though, Scrooge basically is among an other-world full of ghost-like beings. Either that, or this part of the story would be equipped with a Delorean, the clocktower, and Doc. Back To The Future for A Christmas Tale? Sounds right to me. However, unlike in Back to the Future, thankfully, Scrooge is not able to muddle with the past- only view it. I thank Charles Dickens’ for doing this, or else, “A Christmas Carol” would be a completely different story and lose its message.
Back to the Future
After about an hour of living-person time, Scrooge is plopped back into the present day and is taken for a stroll alongside the Ghost of Christmas Present. Only, as he is being accompanied by a ghost, things aren’t exactly normal, once more. Scrooge’s out-of-body experience in the Land of the Present can best be described as going on a Disney ride throughout your life, only you can’t interact with things or people, unless they are ghosts. While being in the past was perhaps the most ghost-filled and haunting, the present is probably the most confusing. Scrooge is probably too spooked at the time to notice it, but he is indeed walking amongst the un-dead: these people are his peers, yet they can not see him. Duh- he must be a ghost. I imagine this is where the hauntings from the ghosts really began to mess with his mind. Scrooge could not get past the “third wall” (if you will) and had no control over real goings-on as they were happening. He was basically living the life of an un-seeable ghost.
Ghosts. If you can't see 'em, join 'em!
It’s one thing to be spooked and haunted by ghosts, but when they turn you into a ghost to get their way, well then you know something must be up. After the second haunting hour, Scrooge is once more visited by a ghost. In the Ford’s Theatre production, this ghost can best be described as a chillingly fantastic version of the following:
The ghouls from Disney's Fantasia's Night on Bald Mountain
The Dementors from Harry Potter
The "ehh ehh" guy from Spirited Away
By the time Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Future, he already knows what is to become of him. Frankly, one can reach the conclusion that by this time, Scrooge has experienced so any hauntings, he can predict the future, much like we are to believe ghosts can do. This is the whole point of the future-land. Scrooge can now see into the future, a power that is only capable of ghosts.
After all the hauntings, he is returned to his home, to his no longer spinning bed. But there is nothing of an exorcism, so we are only led to believe that Scrooge is forever possessed by evil beings. What other reason can explain an old man wandering around town in just his nightgown, acting completely bonkers and rambling about seeing ghosts. To make matters worse, the good townsfolk don’t really even question his “Christmas Spirit” and welcome his deranged self into their hearts and homes. Seriously: if this took place in modern day, a mumbling old man in just a night gown would not be welcomed in. The ending of “A Christmas Carol” is indeed the worst part. Poor old Scrooge had been hypnotized by the ghosts and can never again return to his normal self.
A modern day, Scrooge. (aka: the epitome of a creepy old man)
Plus, to make matters worse, the moral of the story is basically that if you are encountered by ghosts, you should go along with their soul-taking ways. In the end, a soul-less person is better than a person who has been led astray. We are led to believe that possessed humans are an acceptable part of society, and that insane people should be led on so they do not know they are acting strangely. This is quite the horror story and indeed not a happy ending.