A hodgepodge homage


"A Very Phoenix Xmas

Phoenix Theatre

Directed by Bryan Fonseca

Through Dec. 23

Celebrate “Christmas with the burnin’ bird” in the Phoenix Theatre’s hodgepodge homage to the holidays, A Very Phoenix Xmas, their second holiday-themed experimental short skit show.

This is the second year the Phoenix accepted submissions from playwrights to create a compilation of holiday theater. Like last year, the show can be uneven. But as an added gift, in addition to actors Jamison Kay Garrison, Doug Messinger, Sara Riemen, Michael Shelton and Gayle Steigerwald, Phoenix’s artistic director, Bryan Fonseca, takes the stage and shows just how well he can handle funny.

A few items are reruns: the still funny song “Don’t Eat the Baby,” directed toward the pigs in Jesus’ birthing barn; the imaginative “The Holi-date” that uses a black-out effect to create wild images (backwards, even); and “The Taco Bell Canon.” The funniest of the offerings is “Splat!” by Michael McKeever, which shows what happened when Dorothy left the Munchkins to clean up the dead Wicked Witch of the East. Other highlights are “Poinsettia vs. The Christmas Cactus: A Yuletide Smackdown” by Jonathan Graham about a couple trash-talking plants, the baby Cheez-It in “The Nativity” by Joshua Lingenfelter, the giant wishing dreidel in “A Very Special Hanukkah Special” by Mark Harvey Levine, the line about the pre-op Bratz doll in “Christmas on the Island of Recalled Toys” by Adam O. Crowe, “O Holy Night” on nose flutes … and that’s just the first half of the show. The whole thing ends with a “burnin’ bird” ode to the theater itself, complete with a stilt-walking phoenix.

The cast is consistently versatile and always works to get every last laugh out of each situation (or an ohh and ahh, like in “Snowmaker” by Aarya Sara Locker), and Fonseca’s multi-purpose set design keeps it simple but effective for each individual story. While not every short is five-star worthy, wait five minutes and the weather will change.

A Very Phoenix Xmas continues through Dec. 23. Tickets are $29, $15 for those 24 and under. Call the Phoenix, 749 N. Park Ave., at 317-635-PLAY for reservations.



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