“Elysheva [Ely] Scroogeavitz is nine months pregnant, and her fiancé is dead,” playwright Elise Esther Hearst declares.

“She’s inherited a bakery from her grandmother [Bubi] and run it completely into the ground. All her family are trying to intervene and tell her, ‘Enough is enough. You need to close the bakery; you need to let go of the dream.’ She rejects them all and just wants to be left alone.”

So begins Hearst’s Jewish retelling of Charles Dickens’ timeless novella, A Christmas Carol. Together with co-writer Phillip Kavanagh, she has drawn on her own lived experience to write a play that many will immediately identify with Melbourne.

Evelyn Krape made up with big hair. big hair. Her shiny black shirt and red jacket catches the light.

Evelyn Krape in A Very Jewish Christmas Carol, Melbourne Theatre Company. Photo © Jo Duck

“Firstly, it’s a foodie culture,” says Hearst. “People will do anything to get the best babka or bagel.”

Secondly, Bubi [played by Evelyn Krape] was a Polish Holocaust survivor. “I think that [in Melbourne] we are predominantly a Holocaust survivor community, and the play really...