A Christmas Carol - A Play in Two Acts
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Joseph Thomas
(I'm too lazy to put in all of the italic and bold tags, so if you want them ask for the word document)
The setting: Foggy London, Christmas Eve. Curtain is open partially to allow for entrance. Office scene is set behind curtain. Chorus of five, located down left begins singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Scrooge, in a black traveler’s coat, walks up left stairs. Chorus holds out donation hat and Scrooge hurries by. Cratchit follows Scrooge and gives them a coin; Scrooge comes back out and gestures for them to go away. Curtain opens to reveal Scrooge’s offices.
Chorus One: Once upon a time – of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve – it was cold, bleak, foggy, biting weather.
Chorus Two: The people went wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts
Chorus Three: and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them.
Chorus Four: The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole,
Chorus Five: the houses opposite were mere phantoms.
Chorus One: The door of scrooge’s counting-house was open so that he might keep an eye upon his clerk Bob Cratchit,
Chorus Two: Who in a dismal little cell beyond was copying letters.
Chorus Three: Scrooge had a very small fire
Chorus Four: but the clerk’s fire was smaller still. It looked as if it was a single coal
Chorus Five: but he couldn’t replenish it for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his room.
Cratchit puts on a scarf and attempts to warm himself with the candle on his desk (he fails)
Chorus One: Oh! He was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge was!
Chorus Two: A squeezing, wrenching, grasping,
Chorus Three: scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!
Chorus Four: Hard and sharp as flint
Chorus Five: and solitary as an oyster.
Chorus exits DL. Fred enters, a good looking young man, shabbily but warmly dressed. He acknowledges Bob and proceeds into Scrooge’s room
Fred: A Merry Christmas, Uncle! God save you!
Scrooge: Bah! Humbug!
Fred: Christmas as humbug, Uncle? You don’t mean that, I am sure?
Scrooge: I do. Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.
Fred: (jestingly) Come then. What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.
Scrooge: Bah! Humbug!
Fred: Don’t be cross, Uncle.
Scrooge: What else can I be when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas? Out upon Merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older and not an hour richer. If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips should be boiled with the Christmas pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!
Fred: (aghast) Uncle!
Scrooge: Nephew! Keep Christmas in your way and let me keep it in mine.
Fred: But you don’t keep it.
Scrooge: Let me leave it alone then. Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you.
Fred: There are many things, by which I have profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always though of Christmastime, when it has come round, as a good time: the only time I know of in the long calendar year when men and women seem to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. Therefore, Uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good and will do me good; I say God bless it!
Bob looks up from his work and applauds. Realizing his error, he quietly pokes the fire and quickly resumes his work.
Scrooge: (to Bob) Let me hear another sound out of you, and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation. (to Fred) You’re quite a powerful speaker, Nephew. It’s a wonder you don’t go into Parliament.
Fred: Don’t be angry, Uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow!
Scrooge: I’ll see you in hell first.
Fred: But why?
Scrooge: Why did you get married?
Fred: Because I fell in love!
Scrooge: Because you fell in love. (deep sigh) Good afternoon, Nephew!
Fred: Nay, Uncle! You never came to see me before that happened. Why give that as a reason to not come now?
Scrooge: (trying to busy himself) Good afternoon.
Fred: I am sorry with all of my heart to find you in such a bad mood, but I’ll keep my Christmas humor to the last. So a very Merry Christmas, Uncle!
Scrooge: Good afternoon!
Fred: And a Happy New Year!
Scrooge: Good afternoon!
Fred exits the room and stops to wish season’s greetings to Bob who returns them cordially. As he exits, he holds open the door for the two charity solicitors carrying an assortment of books and official-looking papers to enter
Scrooge: There’s a fellow, my clerk, with a wife and family and only 15 shillings a week. For him to speak of a Merry Christmas? Humbug!
Solicitor One: Greetings! At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable to make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries…
Solicitor Two: Hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir!
Scrooge: Are there no prisons?
Solicitor Two: There are plenty of prisons.
Scrooge: And the Union workhouses? Are they still operational?
Solicitor One: Yes, they are. Still, I wish I could say they were not.
Scrooge: Oh! Good! I was afraid from what you said at first that something had happened to stop them. I’m very glad to hear it.
Solicitor Two: They scarcely furnish a Christian cheer of mind or body, sir. A few of us are raising money to buy the poor some meat and drink and means of warmth.
Solicitor One: We chose this time because it is a time when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What can I put you down for?
Solicitor One: You wish to remain anonymous?
Scrooge: I wish to be left alone! Since you ask me what I wish, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough. Those who are badly off must go there.
Solicitor Two: Many can’t go there and many would rather die!
Scrooge: If they would rather die, they had better do it and decrease the surplus population. Good afternoon.
The solicitors, seeing that they will receive nothing for their efforts, exit. As they are leaving, a boy looks in Scrooge’s window and sings to him
Boy: “God bless you merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay…”
Scrooge grabs a ruler from his desk and threatens the boy, who flees. A church bell sounds in the distance, signaling the time. Bob approaches Scrooge apprehensively
Cratchit: I believe it’s closing time, sir.
Scrooge: (standing up from his chair) I suppose you’ll want the day off tomorrow.
Cratchit: If it’s quite convenient, sir.
Scrooge: Well it’s not convenient and it’s not fair. If I was to take the day out of your salary you would feel ill-used, am I correct? (Bob smiles) Yet, you wouldn’t think me ill-used when I pay a day’s wages for no work.
Cratchit: Well, sir, Christmas only comes once a year.
Scrooge: A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December. (buttoning up his jacket) But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier the next morning!
Cratchit: I promise you I will, sir.