NC State’s University Theater’s performance of Inspecting Carol began with what appeared would be a mediocre chuckler of a show, but in the end, it took a turn for the hilarious. Much of the humor that fell flat in the first act had little to do with the actors and more to do with the script itself. As we were made to identify with Wayne from the beginning of the show, the audience did not relate well to MJ’s curt attitude toward Wayne in the beginning, nor did we understand the jokes about Lithuanian anger. While the simple, modern day costumes effectively identified the characters, the set did little to enhance the show. Trap doors and pop-up gravestones worked well in the second act, but the cartoonish drops did little to establish a theater space as the location of the show – not that we needed it. The dialogue informed the audience of the play’s location right off the bat. The choice to cast Larry so young, while Sidney and Dorothy were cast age-appropriate, seemed inconsistent but not detrimental to the performance. Larry took on the role of an eager, forward thinking actor well. The actors’ connections with one another were lacking, however, as they played more to the jokes in the script than with one another. The exceptions were Sidney and Dorothy, whose actors worked well with each character. Dorothy’s hilarious scene leading vocal warm ups introduced the knee-slapping comedy to come and was the first scene to really pull the audience into the action. Aside from the few script inconsistencies and acting shortcomings in Act One, the play provided a night of romping fun for a completely sold out house.
When a low budget community theater is faced with a complete budget cut depending on the report of a NEA inspector, they take extreme measures with their annual performance of A Christmas Carol in an effort to impress. When the inspector finally does arrive, the show has spiraled so far out of control that the characters can only hang on for dear life. Every joke introduced in Act One’s muddled plot (except Zorah’s Lithuanian anger) was realized in the best ways in Act Two. The Ghost of Christmas sometime-or-another changed so many times by the end of the show that all he could mutter through his increasingly ridiculous costumes was “I don’t know!” The actualization of his fear of puppets made for about the funniest sequence of mishaps in the entire show.
While NCSU’s University Theatre may not have presented their finest acting of the season, their physical comedy and the gags in Inspecting Carol certainly provided a great deal of humor for the sold out audience. For a night to let loose and enjoy a show, this certainly fit the bill. Many spectators went away wiping away tears of laughter from their eyes, making this comedy worth every penny.
*The author is a member of CVNC's internship program at Meredith College.