“A Christmas Carol” or “Scroogissimo” – @ Artbar Reply

Review by  Tony Kilgannonreviewer_Tony
               For the record, I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas entertainment. Most of it is cheesy and manipulative, and we are exposed to it far too often.  It seems like Christmas starts earlier every year, and lasts longer and longer. “Bah. Humbug “, as the man said.  I make one exception to this rule, however; Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Or should I say more accurately, the movie of the book (nobody reads books) – the one with Alistair Sim, a masterpiece beloved by anyone with a modicum of taste. 
Photo courtesy of Adam CarterScroogissimo  Charly Chiarelli and Ryan Sero have teamed up to devise “Scroogissimo” a send-up of the story in a uniquely Hamilton way, at Artword Artbar. Chiarelli is a Sicilian, from Racalmuto. He is not alone. Hamilton is full of Racalmutese , their numbers and contributions seeming overwhelming considering the small town from which they originate.  Artword Artbar itself sits almost literally in the shadow of the great  three-legged Trinacria symbol on the side of a neighbouring building,  the social club called Fratellanza Racalmutese.
               Chiarelli is well-known for mining the comic possibilities in the culture and the accent of Sicilians, and Hamiltonians. With Sero, he has overlaid that pattern onto the great Dickens tale. You can imagine the results; we get words like “umbaggo” (humbug), and lines like “is there-a no prison-a onna Barton-a Street?”.  Because the story and even the lines of the original are so familiar, the send-up works. Even the tender parts of Scrooge’s journey are Sicilianized. When “Scroogi” is transported by the Ghost of Christmas Past, to the triangular island and the town of  Racalmuto of his youth, it is a very sentimental moment. I saw at least one hankie furtively raised to dab the corner of an audience member’s eye.
            I’m very fond of the space in Artword Artbar. It seems so low-tech and home-made that productions have a remarkable intimacy. Everything is carried by the performers, with lighting and sets that are minimal and non-distracting.  The cast of Scroogissimo held my interest with strong comic acting and as a powerful musical ensemble. Accompanied by only a keyboard, they performed several Christmas musical numbers including a couple of classic Italian songs. Great fun at a very nice bar with craft beer and wine at reasonable prices.  http://www.artword.net/artbar 

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