Mary Beth is a 1930s Kansas housewife determined to give her son Charlie a merry Christmas. Trouble is, the bank downstairs keeps getting robbed, and the bullet holes in Mary Beth’s floor are accumulating. To make matters worse, husband Francis, an abusive drunken bull in a china shop, keeps spoiling the party. Roy, the town sheriff, is smitten with Mary Beth and untalented in nabbing the robbers. When The Lynx, a clever bank robber with an English accent posing as an Irish hole-fixer appears on the scene, things get interesting.
Mike Johnson as The Lynx is razor-sharp, delivering his lines and cheeky character with bullet-like precision. Farrell Walsh’s script is pithy, but sometimes the story slugs a bit tediously, perhaps because not all the characters are fun to watch. Denise Boylan as Margaret is impressive. As the catatonic bank teller with expressions that range from blank to amused, she makes a humorous statement on how one’s mental defect can be a welcome break from dealing with human chaos. It is also witty how she’s plunked on the couch with silver tinsel on her head, like a forgotten Christmas tree. Escaping clichés about toys or Scrooges, Walsh’s plot focuses on the joys of trumping the system – whether that’s a thief or a wife breaking free.
Johnson’s dynamic energy picks the story up a comic notch, and Phil Meister as the drunken husband provides comic relief. Accurate period furniture and costumes transport you back to a time when Bonnie and Clyde were heroes, and one had to wait on line for Christmas chicken. For the most part, “A Dirty ‘30s Christmas” is comically fine-tuned and amusing. The production is a bit threadbare, but this is storefront theater and 1930s Kansas, mind you.