Amodern-day “A Christmas Carol” with a Jewish slant, “Carol’s Eve” features intelligent scenes, witty dialogue and a strong ensemble cast.
The play is set in an office party on Christmas Eve, which is also Carol’s 30 th birthday. Carol’s suicide attempt, from the balcony of an L.A. high-rise, is stopped when a stream of partygoers visit the terrace.
Each scene begins the same way, with Carol’s attempt to jump delayed by the entrance of a new character, with their presence creating a mood and message that’s distinct from the previous scene. The conflict begins when Carol meets Michael (Richard Robert Redlin). He’s a former biker, now an unrelenting New Ager, who’s already experienced death when he was in an accident that led to a coma.
Carol (Devora Millman), however, is a skeptic of “fast-food philosophy” and “epiphany burnout.” But he explains, “Despair shatters the healing powers of memory and perspective,” as he explores the difference between living and survival.
Additional party guests in other scenes include a drunk; an amorous couple; a rich, coke-snorting teenage lesbian; an Orthodox Jewish grandfather and his marriage-minded grandson.
Playwright Pauline Lepor embraces conflicts, torment and foibles with humor and sensitivity. Although each mood-sketch has its strengths, the individual scenes are stronger than the total package. The resolve weakly suggests that the prospect of a Saturday night date could be the answer to a single woman’s suicidal angst.
Director Valerie Mayhew has created an ensemble that runs like a fine Swiss watch. The cast is highlighted by Redlin’s alluring stage presence and magnetism.
Millman is the weakest link in a strong cast. Allen Garfield plays his role as an Orthodox Jew with dimension and conviction. He steals the show with a hilarious exorcism. His three stories bring meaning and clarity to Carol’s life. As the rich teen, Alicia Silverstone (Debbie) is a young, captivating actress with a bright future.