Theatre Review: David Sedaris’ Uncomfortable Christmas Holiday Fun Time Hour!

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For so many of those people who choose to recognize it, Christmas is the ultimate holiday celebration. It’s the big one; the one where so much is poured into it – time, energy, emotion, and money – in the hope that the yield on December 25th will pay back in far more meaningful dividends. However, the meaning behind this joyous, even sacred, time has become more and more muddled and uncertain with each passing year; the emphasis and pressure placed upon us by commercialization becomes a daunting, towering foe we like to pretend isn’t really there.

In Kick at the Dark Theatre Company‘s performance of David Sedaris’ Uncomfortable Christmas Holiday Fun Time Hour it certainly feels like Christmas – beautiful decorations, carols in the air, presents under the tree – but the second the show begins Christmas gets a thrilling re-examination. Over the course of an incredibly quick hour, the audience is treated to Sedaris’ interpretations towards Christmas’ many faces.

Andrew Chandler as Thaddeus Bristol. Photo credit: Jamie Bradley

Actor/Director Andrew Chandler starts off the performance in “Front Row Centre With Thaddeus Bristol” as a sardonic theatre critic perched so high on his pedestal that nothing is above reproach or judgement (including children’s Christmas plays, which he destroys with sickening, self-righteous mirth). For him, nothing is off limits, and Chandler ably presents Sedaris’ mocking disdain towards so many adults who will support and encourage such injustices against the theatrically-minded world.

In the second performance, “Based Upon a True Story,” actor Katarina Bakolias excels as fast talking, condescending, TV executive bigwig Jane Timothy, with a highly memorable, super-charged performance. Bakolias is razzle-dazzle, dangerously masterful at selling to consumers shows they never knew they wanted to see. But there’s desperation betraying her exterior. She’s baffled by one woman’s kindness – a woman who can’t be swayed to share her impossibly altruistic motives by material incentives – and Timothy appeals to the audience’s avarice to do her bidding.

Last on the docket, actor/director Jamie Bradley describes an increasingly perverse tale of Yuletide oneupmanship in “Christmas Means Giving.” Bradley is perfect, relaying Sedaris’ cutting observations of how so many of us blur the line between Christmas spirit and Christmas spending, and the flawed concept that giving is synonymous with generosity towards your fellow man.

Guy & Doll (Audrey Eastwood and Nick Cox). Photo credit: Andrew Chandler

It’s hard to find fault in Uncomfortable Christmas Holiday Fun Time Hour. Three is the magic number, and all monologues cast a subtle spotlight onto what Christmas has transformed into. But for all of its bite there is beauty to found. Musical accompaniment by Nick Cox and Audrey Eastwood (also known as local duo Guy & Doll) prevents the three acts from getting tiresome, and the end song sung by Chandler is in itself worth the price of admission. Whether you like Christmas or hate it, audiences alike will find something to enjoy here.

 

Kick at the Dark Theatre Company’s production of David Sedaris’ Uncomfortable Christmas Holiday Fun Time Hour is at The Waiting Room through Sunday, December 18th; check here for ticket availability.

About the author

Carey Bray

Carey Bray is a local artist, actor/director, and writer residing in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He has previously written reviews and interviews for The Coast's 2015/2016 Halifax Fringe Festival, Atlantic Books Today, and the online blog, Hello Dartmouth. You'll find more of Carey's work on his blog, Drifted.