All Deanna (Foss Curtis) and James (Chris Murray) want is a nice Christmas gift for their son, and to keep up their holiday spirits by eating the cookies supposedly destined for Santa. But then Santa (Steve Coker) actually arrives, and, seeing no cookies, tries to leave. So Deanna and James piledrive and waterboard him until he dies. That battle comprises the majority of Matt Pelfrey’s The Reason for the Season
, one half of Artists Rep’s R-rated Xmas Unplugged
. We’re warned to leave the kids at home, and for good reason: F-bombs explode like chestnuts in the fire. Yet children are perhaps the only ones who would enjoy such a campy and drawn-out fight scene. In Anthony Nielson’s The Night Before Christmas
, the plot is much tighter. A limey lowlife (Murray) catches an alleged elf sneaking around in a warehouse, so he ties him up and calls a very cynical friend (Coker). “I’m just an employee of an international gift distribution company!” the elf protests, and the two friends, joined by “scrubber” (read: prostitute) Cherry, start to believe him. When Cherry (Luisa Sermol) wistfully explains she only started turning tricks to give her son a better life, she excuses her own outburst: “Well, boo fuckin’ hoo.” It’s a far more ideological critique of Christmas than the first short play, and with such comments coming from smarmy mouths like Cherry’s, the result is darkly amusing. Like all good holiday plays, Xmas Unplugged
ends happily—twice. You just might have to strangle Santa to get there.
Artists Repertory TheatrePhone:
1515 SW Morrison St.Website: http://www.artistsrep.org/onstage/2013---2014-season/xmas-unplugged.aspx