The Concise Dickens’ Christmas Carol
A 50-minute tour-de-force for one or more actors which brings Dickens’ classic powerfully to life with minimal props and staging.
by D. D. Delaney
About the Play: Everyone knows the tale of old Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts who haunt him, eventually transforming a lonely, stingy, bitter old man into a generous, infectiously cheerful humanitarian. Now D.D. Delaney, a professional actor, playwright, journalist, and poet, has adapted the familiar holiday classic for the stage in a 50-minute condensed version, The Concise Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Conceived as a one-man tour-de-force—yet perfectly suitable for performance by an ensemble of three or more actors—The Concise Carol is absolutely faithful to the language and sequencing of the original novella, capturing its undiluted power as a seasonal myth of redemption, rebirth, and joyous renewal while losing none of the richness of its secular holiday cheer.
Critic Montague Gammon III wrote in the daily Virginian Pilot, “The one-man show of The Concise Dickens’ Christmas Carol…loses little if anything significant that lengthier written or enacted versions of Charles Dickens’ familiar holiday tale include. Performer and adapter D.D. Delaney neatly preserves enough of the original’s Victorian-sounding verbal filigrees to convey the idea that this story belongs to another time and culture, yet he does not let verbiage bog down the story.”
From the Play: (NOTE: This has been performed as a 1-man show, but can use other actors if desired.)
NARRATOR: His nephew left the room without an angry word, stopping at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge; for he received them cordially; and in letting Scrooge's nephew out let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office.
FIRST GENTLEMAN: Scrooge and Marley's, I believe. Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?
SCROOGE: Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years. He died seven years ago, this very night.
FIRST GENTLEMAN: Oh. Well, we have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner.
SCROOGE: (A humorless growl) Liberality! Ha!
SECOND GENTLEMAN: At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.
SCROOGE: Are there no prisons?
SECOND GENTLEMAN: Plenty of prisons.
SCROOGE: And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?
SECOND GENTLEMAN: They are. Still, I wish I could say they were not.
SCROOGE: And the Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour then?
SECOND GENTLEMAN: Both very busy, sir.
SCROOGE: Oh. I was afraid from what you said at first that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course. I am very glad to hear it.
FIRST GENTLEMAN: Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind and body to the multitude, a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?
FIRST GENTLEMAN: You wish to remain anonymous.
SCROOGE: I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish for, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I support the establishments you have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.
FIRST GENTLEMAN: But many can't go there!
SECOND GENTLEMAN: And many would rather die.
SCROOGE: Well, if they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides, it’s not my business. It’s enough for a man to understand his own business and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen
1-4 M (1w possible)
Running Time 50 minutes
About the Playwright:
D. D. Delaney, a veteran of twenty-eight years of stage experience, has appeared in seven full-length productions of the Christmas classic, playing Scrooge in five of them. Because of his intimate familiarity with the original tale, he is well equipped to take on this assignment, which he premiered himself—on a bare stage, with no costume changes and a stool as his only prop—throughout December, 2006, at the 40th Street Stage in Norfolk, VA.
His performance earned him critical acclaim and consistent standing ovations.
In a review of the production in Port Folio Weekly, the leading arts and culture publication in Hampton Roads, theater critic Jean Laidig wrote, “Audience members don’t have to work hard to make out the words, to keep track of who’s speaking when, or to remember the story from other sources and fill in any narrative gaps. They’re in good hands as Delaney takes care of all that, and they can relax and respond to the message of the piece.”