Weekend Highlights

Published December 10, 2012
Going Places

A Parent’s Review: Inspecting Carol at Seattle Repertory Theatre

by Kelly Rogers Flynt
seattle child article photo
The cast of Inspecting Carol at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

seattle child article photo
Michael Winters and Ian Bell in Inspecting Carol at Seattle Repertory Theatre.
Photos by Chris Bennion.

Tradition takes a twist at Seattle Repertory Theatre in the production of Inspecting Carol.  This play takes Dickens' beloved A Christmas Carol and moves it from the realm of heart-touching drama to the land of side-splitting comedy. For some, this may be the beginning of a new holiday tradition.

The story of Inspecting Carol centers around a struggling theater’s attempt to produce the classic holiday version.  The cast is a motley crew of theater stereotypes with over-the-top personalities.  Anyone who is a fan of the works of Christopher Guest will feel right at home. 

My 8-year old daughter especially enjoyed the scene in which the vocal instructor leads the groups of actors in a series of warm-ups, which included pretending to squeeze an imaginary lemon with your butt cheeks.  So if you are looking for high-brow humor, perhaps you should look elsewhere for your laughs. 

The highlight of the play is when the company attempts to perform the classic A Christmas Carol for a representative from the National Endowment for the Arts in hopes of keeping their grant.  Per the formula of this type of comedy, the gaffs continue to escalate and are compounded with the entrance of each actor to the stage. 

Undoubtedly, this was the funniest and my daughter’s favorite part of the play.  At one point she actually stood up out of her seat in surprise of the calamity that was befalling the characters on the stage.  It was a literally laugh-out-loud moment for both of us.  There were actually many laugh-out-loud moments, and the majority of the audience was cackling all night.  Unfortunately, much of the humor was above my daughter's head, too adult in nature, or referencing things outside of her realm of experience.

If there is a downside to the play, it is that the material, specifically the language, may not be the best fit for families.  The Rep’s website does warn that it contains “mild profanity.”  I would have included a stronger warning as there were several moments that caused me to cringe with my daughter at my side, and one that made me wish I was fast enough with my hand to cover her ears. 

There is not an age recommendation on the web page for this specific play, but the theater's general guideline is that most plays are intended for ages 13 and older with some plays being appropriate for ages 6 to 12. Inspecting Carol is definitely in the former category.  So, if you have teenagers or are looking for a great show on a kid-free night, Inspecting Carol offers an evening full of levity in a season when we are often too busy to remember to enjoy ourselves.

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If You Go...

Where:  Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle.

When:  Now through Dec. 23. Wednesday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Cost: Tickets range from $15-$80. Anyone 25 and younger may purchase tickets for only $12 for any performance (with ID – call for details).

Contact: 206-443-2222, www.seattlerep.org.