The Other Paper - November 28, 2002

2Co's Christmas show mixes bitter with sweet
Richard Ades, Theater Critic, The Other Paper, Nov. 28,2002

This year's holiday show at 2Co's Cabaret keeps everything short and sweet. Or better yet, short and bittersweet.

 Christmas at 2Co's skips the one act play that usually anchors the cabaret's shows. Instead, it fills the evening with monologues, poetry and songs.

Some of the offerings are old and some are new, and most are slightly tinged with blue. That's appropriate in a holiday season that never quite lives up to its promise of peace and joy.

 Leading off the monologues is one of the welcome repeats from past 2Co's and Shadowbox Cabaret shows, The Innkeeper. Adapted from Dina Donohue's Trouble at the Inn, it's a woman's account of the Christmas pageant that was derailed by her mentally slow brother.

 Bevin Lynch turns in a pleasant narration of the story which will remind some of Barbara Robinson's  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

An even more welcome repeat is Merry Christmas, Miss Pettigrew, adapted from T.R. Pearson's A Short History of a Small Place, Steve Guyer is charmingly down home as a man remembering yet another pageant that went awry.

It should be noted that in these two monologues, Lynch and Guyer are replaced by Alex Beekman and Chris Lynch, respectively, at some performances.

 The most intense of the monologues is Three Grunts Lost, adapted from Michael W. Rodriguez's short story. It's about three scared Marines who stumble across an unfamiliar Vietnamese village on Christmas Eve. The ending isn't complex enough to be as rewarding as it might be, but Joe Lorenzo tells the tale with hard-bitten authority.

In a comic vein, Tom Cardinal is hilarious in Jeff Goode's  Hollywood, about upwardly mobile reindeer who played Prancer on the big screen. Cardinal's fey portrayal is as funny as Goode's jokes about ambitions and jealousies in the movie industry.

  Also funny, in a similarly bitchy kind of way, is Theona's Theatre Corner, Pam Callahan stars in the piece, which Julie Klein adapted from a David Sedaris monologue. It's about a theatre critic who trashes school Christmas pageants on the theory that; "If there's a cancer, it's best to treat it early."

The musically portion of the program evoke several versions of the Christmas spirit, including sad but sweet (Silver Lining, sung by Kori Billiat); cynical (I Believe in Father Christmas, sung by Carrie Lynn McDonald); boisterous (Merry Christmas Baby, sung blues-style by Billiat); angry (Father Christmas, sung punk-style by Callahan); and playful (Skating Away, sung by Cardinal). These are just some of the highlights in a strong evening of music.

Amazing solo licks by keyboardist Chris Ciampa and guitarist Matthew Hahn add to the fun, especially in Run Run Rudolph.

Lorenzo sings the lyrics with an equal amount of energy, making the vintage rock-style tune the perfect way to cap off the holiday show.