Based on the 1980s classic film A Christmas Story, the Grand Theatre presents a play that is both funny and heartwarming. Starring Callum Thompson as Ralphie and Steve Ross as the narrator, this play contains all of the greatness found in the film, but consequently offers little originality.
In his quest to obtain the coveted Red Ryder BB gun, Ralphie utilizes his imaginative mind to try and convince his parents through cunning hijinks and “marketing” that they should buy the gun for Christmas. The incorrigible child gets lost in daydreams about the Red Ryder, often resulting in interesting sequences and funny characters.
Fundamentally, this play is very similar to its film counterpart. The most noticeable difference is that the narrator actually interacts with characters and is constantly visible throughout the play.
On one hand, the narrator brilliantly carries the play along with the witty and smart dialogue you hear in the film. Occasionally, he will also adopt various characters throughout the play and his ability to weave in and out of those different characters is impressive. On the other hand, the narration can feel overdone. In many cases it would interrupt character dialogue and disrupt the flow of the play.
The set itself consisted of a middle class home with a kitchen, living room and bedroom — very similar to the film version. At one point in the play, the characters of the old man and the mother share a seat on the living room couch and gaze upon falling snow from the vantage point of a window. It was a moment in the play that really made use of the simplicity of the production and invited the audience to feel wistful and introspective.
Much like the movie, the play evokes feelings of nostalgia by playing with classic Christmas tropes, like opening up gifts on Christmas morning, going tree shopping and experiencing malfunctions during Christmas dinner.
For the most part, however, the play felt like it could have gone farther with its storytelling. It would have been nice to see more original scenes instead of simply rehashing the film. That being said, there was a love interest between Ralphie and Esther Jane Alberry that was a nice addition.
Overall, the play did its job of entertaining a specific family audience. But while it provided that warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling, it also left a void. The actors, blocking, lighting and set were all great and well done. However, being that it was so similar to the movie, it lacked in any noticeable originality.