This review comes with a warning about naughty language and is not intended for those easily offended by such words or especially for those that can’t take a joke.
After attending Post Productions latest show Another Fucking Christmas Play: A Fucking Musical (AFCP) last night, it seems rather fitting that this Christmas season is also the year people have taken offence to such seasonal favourites as Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Baby, It’s Cold Outside. In a sense, albeit not a planned one, AFCP is the anti, anti-Christmas play to fuck them all.
Packed with more than a dozen original songs from playwrights Michael Potter, Michael O’Reilly and Fay Lynn – and musical direction from Sam Poole – this is one hell of an original Christmas romp.
AFCP follows the misadventures of very different people spending Christmas at a once-elegant resort in the Colorado mountains. It’s been 10 years since an incident destroyed the local economy and left the resort to die a slow death. Even so, it’s still owned and managed by a cross-dressing misanthrope Willie Finch (Michael K. Potter), and still employs Chip Williams (Eric Branget) and Biff Davidson (David Burrows) as its lounge act, singing to dwindling and less attractive audiences. An assortment of oddball characters still hangs out from time to time – such as the tragically misunderstood tycoon Marianne Marley (Cindy Pastorius) and her beau, reality-show star Brody Brosephine (Matt Froese) – and two local alcoholic Santas, Chris Nichols (Michael O’Reilly) and Sam Klausowitz (Zephyr) basically live on the premises.
The arrival of two different groups of guests throws the resort out of its uncomfortable rut. Two rejected sisters – Noelle (Carla Gyemi) and Yula (Julie Walton) are attempting to reconcile with their estranged famous sister, Holly (Samantha Lillian), whose singing career has fallen on hard times. And an impoverished family has shown up, after winning a trip in Middle Class Dreams Monthly magazine: Carol O’Pheasant (Fay Lynn) and her three eccentric children, Agnes (Julia Pastorius), Teensy Tim (Nikolas Prsa) and Other (Maria Hausmann). As these disparate personalities clash into each other in pursuit of their own goals, secrets are revealed, songs are sung, and sheer lunacy prevails.
This two-act play opens with Another Fucking Christmas Song, a musical number containing several occurrences of said F-word and it continues to lay on the smack until the infectiously climactic Hey Ho, Let the Holly-Jolly In!
The Post gang really jumped out of the box for this one. The group is primarily known for think-pieces and thought-provoking content, but they stepped away from their comfort zone to create an enticing musical comedy (two things they don’t really do). And Holy Fucking Christ, they hit the nail on the head with this one. Naughty words, catchy songs, over-the-top characters and the first on-stage birth I’d ever witnessed – thanks for that Fay Lynn!
The entire ensemble was fantastic. If you actually spent your time solely concentrating on where the dialog was being said, you missed about 2/3 of the great acting that was going on behind the scenes and on the opposite sides of the stage – like a very subtle S&M routine from Cindy Pastorius or the lisping antics of Julie Walton. And yeah, that last line kinda gives you an idea of the whole show. A super cheesy lounge act (Eric Branget and David Burrows), a bunch of American hicks, drunk and grumpy Santas (Michael O’Reilly and Zephyr) and The Holy of Holies, Michael Potter in a dress and dangly earrings.
The absolute standout is Nikolas Prsa who captured much of the attention every time he walked on the stage. His “Simple Jack” take on Teensy Tim might have been a little too retard in almost every situation, but for this musical, it actually worked and breathed some life into a couple of the more toned-down moments. His facial expressions were outstanding and his performance of Believing is an Easy Sorta Fing were priceless. To go from the amazing performance of the tense and very naked Alan Strang in Equus to the outlandish Teensy Tim of AFCP just a couple months later should earn him the Southwestern Ontario award for actor of the year if there was such a “fing”.
The only character that had any common sense was Julia Pastorius and sweet Jesus, she nailed it. She got my compassion the entire time, but it was the absurdity of the entire cast and putting that mishmash together like this made this whole show over-the-top and extraordinarily funny.
The staging by Matthew Burgess was fun and actually felt like we were gazing into the bar area of a mountain resort in Colorado and the lighting has been the best we’ve seen at Shadowbox since it opened.
This is certainly the Christmas play of the year, but there’s no fucking way it’s for everyone. If you’re easily offended, stay the fuck away.
Another Fucking Christmas Play: A Fucking Musical continues tonight and Saturday (Dec. 7 and 8), with additional performances Dec. 13, 14 and 15 at The Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor.