For better or worse, Christmas is a time for family. And for the family at the center of “It’s Christmas Goddamnit” the holiday also marks a time for all-out warfare. With all everyday resentments and recriminations dialed up to 11, the show succeeds in creating a very funny Yuletide grotesque. Any ordinary gripes one might have with ones parents or siblings seem like blessings by comparison.
The fuse starts burning right off the bat, with paterfamilias Bill (Jimmy Pennington) and his Blue Plate Special-enjoying squeeze Bev (an especially wonderful Annie Donley) preparing for the arrival of Bill’s children. Bev is excited for the children to know about her and Bill’s special relationship, but Bill rightly fears the havoc such an announcement could unleash. And once the children start arriving, his fears appear quite valid, since everyone one of them appears to own substantial real estate in Crazy Town. There’s Margo (Jo Scott) and her husband Trevor (Kellen Terrett) a pair of unnervingly touchy-feely psychiatrists who’ve dragged their desperately sane adopted son Thomas (Mantas Dumcius) along for the ride. There’s the unemployed sad-sack Nick (Jeffrey Murdoch) and his poor, under-sexed wife Lilly Anne (Emily Fitzpatrick). And then there’s Penny (Bridget Ballek), Bill’s live-at-home daughter who, well, wears bright red spandex pants. Oh, and there’s also Bev’s cow-eyed man-child of a son, Corey (Paul Jurewicz) who can only speak 4 phrases and might or might not be very, very dangerous. With friends and relatives like these, who needs enemies?
The show, directed by Charley Carroll from a script created by the cast, takes a little while to get going. There’s a looseness to the actors delivery that, early on, can lead them to get in each other’s way. But after the first third, once things pick up a head of steam, the laughs start coming. Even an unfortunate sub-plot about Lilly Anne’s miscarriage, which stops the show dead whenever it comes up, isn’t enough to kill the momentum. Terrett and Scott ‘s wack-a-doodle antics are especially delightful, while Dumcius gives a refreshingly low-key performance as the show’s lone, and lonely, voice of sanity. Jurewicz also subtly steals many of the scenes he’s in, bringing surprising subtlety to a character who is intentionally left blank.
Lastly, if the title or the 10 pm curtain didn’t clue anyone in, this is not a show for children. But it is certainly recommended for any adults who find going home for the holidays a little trying. Spend an hour and a half with these poor deranged people, and consider yourself lucky.