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January 26th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
Billed as ″a very adult Christmas comedy,″ Furious Theatre Company’s Los Angeles Premiere of Anthony Neilson’s ″The Night Before Christmas″ is a tasty and tart alternative to sweeter holiday fare. Imagine the hilarious possibilities presented by this scenario: two cockney thugs, an elf and a hooker find themselves in a London warehouse, site of many a shady deal, on Christmas Eve.
Directed by Robert Pescovitz, the one-act show opened on Saturday, November 29 to an appreciative audience. With an emphasis on humor with a raunchy bent, Doug Newell as Gary, Troy Metcalf as Simon, K.M. Davies as the Elf and Nina Silver as Cherry deliver lots of laughs as they explore the meaning of the season and try to determine if this particular elf is the real deal.
Dialect coach Sara Hennessy did a great job with her actors whose delivery sounded spot on authentic yet still intelligible. Kudos also go to Christie Wright whose set design made the most of the tiny Carrie Hamilton Theatre stage and given the number of dishwasher boxes used in the construction, the crew might well have robbed a few appliance stores, at least of cardboard. One of Costume Designer Christy M. Hauptman’s fabric creations is truly a treat to behold.
Considering the fantastic scenario of a captured elf inexplicably found in this particular warehouse, the performances, especially by Newell and Davies, were so natural it felt as if we were listening into very real, very funny conversations. Newell demonstrated impeccable comic timing and Silver elicited her fare share of the laughs, although her delivery seemed a little rushed on opening night. Perhaps because the happy audience laughed more often, longer and harder than anyone anticipated.
Despite the prolific use of four-letter words and the somewhat unsavory professions of Simon, Gary and Cherry, at its heart ″The Night Before Christmas″ has tender moments. Some of the revelations are less shocking than they might have been when first performed in 1995, but that doesn’t detract from the overall impact of this Christmas romp. Contemporary touches like Gary’s ″How Lucky Can One Man Get?″ cell phone ring tone also add to the fun.
I have enjoyed all of the Furious Theatre offerings I have attended, but this is my particular favorite. I encourage anyone who needs a break from hectic pace of shopping, cooking and ho ho ho partying to take a refreshing break and see ″The Night Before Christmas″ which performs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. through Saturday, December 20. Tickets are $20 and students $10 rush tickets are available. Call 800-59504849 or visit www.furioustheatre.org. The Pasadena Playhouse Carrie Hamilton Theatre is located at 39 E. El Molino Ave.
By Candyce Columbus