LA Weekly - December 17, 2007


Playwright Jeff Goode can't decide whether he wants to be the Grinch or Father Christmas - or maybe Jerry Springer. The seven Santas represent various aspects of Mr. Claus. The action is set at a contentious Alcoholics Anonymous meeting presided over by Mrs. Claus (Samantha Bennett), who announces, "I've been clean and sober for 45 minutes." In his various incarnations, Santa is presented as a lethal drunk driver (Michael Patrick McGill), a businessman (Frank Ensenberger) who sees Christmas as an ideal venue for commercial exploitation, a celebrity coke-head (Chris Erric Maddox), an elf-exploiter (Tisha Terrasini), a saint and secret drinker (Michelle Lema), a cobbler-cum-entrepreneur (Rodney Lee Sell), and a pedophile/elf-ophile (Bjørn Johnson). Termagant Mrs. Claus belittles Santa's sexual equipment and inferior performance until she learns that he had to barter his childish virginity to an evil farmer for a batch of persimmons. The piece is sometimes funny - but decreasingly so as the proceedings get nastier. Then, at the end, Goode shifts gears to provide an unconvincing, uplifting finale. The actors are fine, Darin Anthony's direction is slick, and Donna Marquet's handsome blue-green set is ornamented with garlands of lights and persimmons, but the final result is grim. Bah, humbug! THE OPEN FIST THEATRE COMPANY, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; mat Dec. 22, 3 p.m.; thru Dec. 22. (323) 882-6912 or (Neal Weaver)