In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we are dropped in the middle of a story already half told. Scrooge is a nasty, miserly man being haunted by his former business partner and the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and yet to come. But why? Who are these ghosts and what are their motives behind repeatedly visiting Scrooge that fateful Christmas Eve?
The Jackson Theatre Guild has brought the very play to The Ned that we need to answer these questions: Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol. Featuring only four actors, this play tells the redemption story of Scrooge from the perspective of Jacob Marley, his now deceased business partner.
The play opens with Jacob Marley’s tour of hell. His eternity seems bleak as he’s told that “you wear the chains your forged in life.” As he passes a woman, he realizes that her very flesh is dripping jewels, fused through painful sores; she is becoming the thing she loved most on earth. For Jacob, his chains are the payments and debts he charged others.
However, there is one way out of his eternal fate of pain. If Jacob Marley can convince Scrooge to have a “complete and willing change of heart” before morning, all his debts will be forgiven. So Jacob and his hell-sprite set off on a seemingly impossible task: convincing Scrooge to repent.
This play was very different than any other play that the Jackson Theatre Guild has performed. Each of the four actors, Billy Worboys, Clayton Elliot, Scott Conley, and Chris Stevens, played multiple parts. In fact, there were sixteen parts shared by the four men.
They did not achieve this constant shift of characters through costume changes but through dialogue and narration. The scenes were often half-performed and half-narrated in a way that allowed the audience to create the scene in their own imaginations.
The set, likewise, was sparse, with just a few steps across the width of it and a tall board covered in chains to remind us of Jacob’s fate. The stage is often dimly lit, creating an oppressive and somber feel in the theatre.
Experience Jacob Marley’s journey for yourself this weekend at The Ned. The play runs December 14 to 17. Tickets are available online.
After graduating from Union University, Renae Adelsberger and her husband Kevin decided to make Jackson their home due to their love for their church, nonprofits, local businesses, and abundance of Sonic drive-ins. Read more of her work on her personal blog.
Photographer Kevin Adelsberger and his wife Renae moved to Jackson for college (proud Union alumni) and have stayed every since. Jackson has since taken hold of Kevin’s heart, and he looks forward to continuing to grow with the city. Kevin opened Adelsberger Marketing in 2014 and saw working with Our Jackson Home as a way that he could serve the city he loves. Kevin and Renae are members of First Baptist Church and volunteer with the youth group there and with Madison County CASA.