Christmas is a time for excess: big presents, big trees, overblown commercialism. So what better Yuletide play than a really over-the-top farce about Santa getting a giant SmackDown from a world-class villainess?
It's not necessarily fare for tots, but Todd Langwell's Fist Full of Christmas is a witty, wry ride for the rest of us. Most of the time. When it isn't, it's because Langwell's play, modestly directed by Brian Kojac, sacrifices originality for some of the most brain-dead, dumb-blonde slapstick humor I've seen since Three's Company:lots of tripping, lots of yelling.
A pixy Narrator (Mo Arii as a doe-eyed dingle belle) guides us through this seasonal tale of six friends and a mom settling in for your basic Christmas Eve tree trimming, beer drinking and bitching. While Arii has her zany dame down, the interaction between our mortals—Greg (a way-too-loud Michael Quinn); his girlfriend, Claire (Laura Petersen); Yale (nerdy Todd Langwell); Len (the effectively Scrooge-like Spider Madison); and dumbbells Dan (KC Mercer) and his gal Alicia (Denise Packard)—teeters between ridiculous (no one really says "bah, humbug," do they?) and tolerable (droning monologues about the different species of ficuses available to the Christmas-tree-less person wear thin after the first 15 seconds).
Fortunately, it's not long before Santa (an enjoyable Terry McNicol) comes crashing into the front yard. Then the production picks up pace—and better jokes. Villainess Dorella Corvette (a fabulous Patti Cumby) and her evil sidekick Remo the Weasel Boy (a so-good-it's-scary Rick Lawhorn) burst onto the scene and have it out with a battered Santa and his Elfin Secret Service right in the mortals' living room.
It's funny, it's wild, and it helps if you're loaded when you see it. So get some of your closest Christmas-jaded friends together and drink up.
A Fist Full of Christmas at Stages, 400 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, (714) 525-4484. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. Through Dec. 19. $12.
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