THEATER REVIEW: Inspecting Carol 

They're Acting — Brilliant! : Footlight Players skewer A Christmas Carol

Inspecting Carol
Produced by Footlight Players Theatre
Dec. 18-20, 8 p.m.; Dec. 21, 3 p.m.
$10-$22
Footlight Players Theatre
20 Queen St.
(843) 722-7821
www.footlightplayers.net

While it's been called part Noises Off, part Waiting for Guffman, Inspecting Carol's Dickensian play-within-the-play poses a more interesting question: How many "post hyphen posts" in front of postmodern does it take until it becomes a fantastic farce? Fortunately, the Footlight Players Theatre provides a rapid-fire and thoroughly hilarious answer.

Plays involving actors portraying bad actors tend to lean toward physical comedy, some of which you'll find here. But Inspecting Carol's main joys stem from two different sources. First, the delicious schmaltz of purposefully excessive acting. Each character's foibles are broadcast without reservation or apology. It's all for art! And indeed, the only character not guilty of acute dramatitis is the inept wannabe, Wayne Wellacre.

Second, the dialogue uses this over-the-top dramatic style to skewer the absurdities entailed in a modern professional life in the arts. These two combine to produce a crisp, ever-accelerating sense of pointed hilarity that never feels forced, and always hits its target right between the eyes.

For those needing a bit of holiday cheer, Inspecting Carol may not be the best place to look. A Christmas Carol merely provides the scenery and serves as a launching pad for our earnest, yet woefully underfunded thespians. But if you need a good laugh, Inspecting Carol mines the rich tradition of theatrical farce with the glee of a monkey at a typewriter who's just banged out the line, "To be, or not to be."

The entire cast delivers the goods, yet of particular note are the performances of Carole Moore as Zorah Bloch, Andrea McGinn as M.J., and Footlight Players' stalwart E. Karl Bunch as Larry Vauxhall.

No humbug here, just a rollicking good time.

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