A cricket and not a ghost brought about transformation in this magical Christmas tale by Charles Dickens, with teacher Helen Curry directing Grade 8 and 9 students, supported by students from Grade 4 and 5, in a presentation of Cricket on the Hearth, a Fairy Tale of Home on Saturday, December 22 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, December 23 at 3 p.m. at the Chimacum Grange Hall.
Throughout Dickens’ lifetime, the novella Cricket on The Hearth outsold the more renowned tale of A Christmas Carol. It is, by contrast, much sweeter, bringing up social criticism with a good mouthful of bonbons. Dickens himself describes the story as “quiet and domestic, innocent and pretty.”
In the play, a magical cricket helps the characters to “see the truth.” Caleb Plummer (Johnas Stocking), a toymaker, and his blind daughter, Bertha (Sydney Louchard), live in impoverished conditions in the squalor of London, but “to keep her happy” her father has hidden from her the truth of their condition. This question around the depiction of an ideal Victorian home is entwined with another plot regarding deception and marriage relating to Bertha’s dear friends, Dolly (Mahina Gelderloos) and John Peerybingle (Clayton Sturgis), and Bertha’s long lost brother, Edward (Enomi Hawk), who returns to claim his sweetheart, May (Ciel Pope), the daughter of the dominating mother, Mrs. Fielding (Moonblossom Dean). May is reluctantly engaged to Mr. Tackleton (Noah Phillips), the arrogant wealthy “Scrooge-like” antagonist, who at the play’s end, also “sees the truth” and is softened, thanks to the cricket.
The cramped interior world of Caleb and Bertha’s shack is contrasted with the bustle of London streets, filled with children playing and singing, surrounding the audience. The songs throughout the play are all drawn from traditional sources.
The two performances were well-received by audiences, and the play was a welcome addition to Ms. Curry’s traditional holiday theater experience.