By Jennie Orton
VANCOUVER — No matter your holiday tradition, there is likely a moment when you encounter, either very on purpose or by contact high, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The timeless tale of regret and redemption rings true for many people as they take stock at the end of the year and prepare for the soul-sucking onslaught of many days of family. So it is fitting as 2016—one of the most world-renowned, record-breaking, sucking chest wound years of recent memory—comes to a close that we seek a lighter-hearted version of the tale to bring us gasping across the finish line of these gritty and despicable 12 months. Enter A Peter n’ Chris Christmas Carol, a cheeky twist brought to you by Fringe Festival stars and Canadian Comedy Award winning scamps Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson. We watch as Chris, absent of Christmas cheer, is visited by those familiar ghosts on Christmas Eve with hilarious results. We spoke to Carlone about their take on the story and why the themes are intrinsically part of our holiday traditions.
BeateRoute: So why is Chris bah humbugging?
Peter Carlone: Well we wanna spoof stuff that we love. Spoof it in a way that honours it. So a part of that is we kind of want to still tell that classic story, but we were thinking like what is it that makes him grumpy? Like is he just a grumpy old guy and it’s the classic Christmas story all the way and we find spoof in that, or is it some sort of sillier comedic reason? The one we are working on right now is part of the reveal in the plot so….I don’t know if I should tell BeatRoute how it turns out in the final scene!
BR: What do you think it is about this story that is so universal that it has stood the test of time?
PC: It’s funny you say that, I was just talking to someone about that. What I think I have come up with is that, have you ever heard this theory? That there are like five stories or only seven stories that we are all telling over and over again in different ways?
BR: The literary bugaboo.
PC: Yeah. (laughs) Is it okay if I call it that from now on? So I wouldn’t say that the actual plot of the Dickens story is one of those plots but that the way it’s being told must touch on one of them. You know, that someone is fundamentally not happy with something and, with some help, figures out that the main reason he is unhappy is himself.
BR: Well I’m a sucker for the story and love seeing other adaptations of it.
PC: Well I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot but I would say ours will be one of the more “unfaithful” adaptations. Cause we’re not just gonna DO it again, y’know? We’re not gonna just do the story. We’ll hit the major beats of it but like in a totally different way. Like right now our Jacob Marley ghost is a person who is a ghost but he’s more of a corporate ghost. He’s sent from “Ghost Corporate,” because cheering people up around the holidays has become such a huge industry that you can’t just send your best buddy to do it. There’s a whole training process, you have to be vetted to be a helper ghost…
BR: This time of year does tend to make people very reflective, which is why this story resonates with so many people. What happens to YOU during the Christmas season?
PC: That’s interesting…Where do you wanna go with that? How real do you want to dive? (laughs)
BR: I’ll leave that up to you.
PC: ‘Cause the thing is, and I think this is why Chris and I make comedies the way we make comedies, is cause things can get really heavy around these times and I think there is just a lot of power and a lot of fun to be had from making jokes and making a good piece of comedy that everybody can get on board with and doesn’t necessarily try to divide you into groups.
BR: If you had access to the ghost of Christmas past, what is something you would definitely want to go see?
PC: Oh wow, that’s a big one. I feel a lot of pressure to say something awesome. You know what would be kind of cool is to go back to see the moon landing and feel the energy of the crowd.
BR: But not mess around, just still let it happen but just observe it?
PC: Oh yeah not mess around…OR if I was gonna mess around I would go a couple years back and see what we can do about this whole Trump sitch. Just be like “GUYS! It happened, it’s not a joke!” I feel like I could write a whole book about the things I would like to go back in time and enjoy. You know what I mean? Like: “just enjoy yourself, geez!” Like University. “Just chill. You don’t have to freak out EVERY DAY. Just like freak out once a week or something, holy crap.”
BR: You’ll live.
PC: Yeah you’re GONNA live. It won’t have mattered. (laughs)
Catch A Peter n’ Chris-tmas Carol at Performance Works, 8:00 p.m. December 9 and 10.BC, British Columbia, Chris Wilson, Performance Works, Peter Carlone, Peter n' Chris, Peter n' Chris Christmas Carol