Q Brothers Christmas Carol makes even Navy Pier bearable this season | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Q Brothers Christmas Carol makes even Navy Pier bearable this season

An 80-minute 'ad-rap-tation' tells Scrooge's story without missing beats.


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The "ad-rap-tation" of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, created by the Q Brothers Collective of GQ, JQ, Jax, and Pos (if you insist on formal names—Gregory Qaiyum, Jeffery Qaiyum, Jackson Doran, and Postell Pringle) has played at Chicago Shakespeare for seven years now, but I'd never seen it before last week. (Navy Pier. Holiday season. Enough said.)

For 80 minutes, the Qs, along with DJ Clayton Stamper, take us on a cyclonic journey through Scrooge's transformation from a gray-suited tightwad hissing "Chris-My-Ass-Mas" (played with convincing vitriol by GQ) to a goofy guy happy to join his nephew Fred (Doran) and Fred's husband (Pringle) in holiday charades, while dumping wads of cash on poor Bob Cratchit (Pringle) to make up for his past parsimony. (The grinding poverty of the Cratchit clan takes on macabre shades of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"—let's just say it's a miracle unseen son Peter survives the Christmas "feast.")

The show uses a dizzying mix of music, including hip-hop, dancehall, pop, and reggae (the latter for—wait for it—Marley's ghost), literary references, physical humor (JQ's crutch-dancing as Tiny Tim is a highlight) and chameleonlike transitions for the actors (GQ is the only one not playing multiple roles). Though I found myself wondering what it would be like if a woman's voice was added to the mix (especially since the loss of Scrooge's sister is what clearly soured his soul to begin with), this show hits the sweet spot for families grown tired of the traditional takes but still looking for a version true to the spirit(s) of the original.  v

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