What do Ebenezer Scrooge and Hamlet have in common? As bizarre bedfellows as they may seem, they both have their rightful place in Key City Public Theatre’s new farcical holiday …
What do Ebenezer Scrooge and Hamlet have in common? As bizarre bedfellows as they may seem, they both have their rightful place in Key City Public Theatre’s new farcical holiday offering, What the Dickens?!
Best described as a Dickens-meets-Vaudeville mini extravaganza in which nothing has its rightful place, it’s destined to demolish the “Bah Humbug” in virtually every thespian and theater critic in our mostly fair hamlet by the sometimes serene sea.
It's fair to describe Doug Given’s farce, complete with “additional material” by David H. Schroeder, as an excuse to have a good time. Does anyone attend a holiday show entitled What the Dickens?! with the hope of receiving ageless wisdom about the ultimate meaning of human existence?
The cast consists of six adult leads plus the six children in the Cratchit Children Ensemble. Denise Winter (Marley), not quite able to free herself from her alter-ego as KCPT’s artistic director, successfully honors the age-old tradition of travesty by tickling the funny bone time and time again.
Brendan Chambers (Bob Cratchit) and Christa Holbrook (Mrs. Cratchit) have a ball keeping vaudeville alive via virtually every means necessary except stilt walking.
Paul Kiernan (Scrooge), who seems under the illusion that his voice must project beyond the top balcony of a Broadway theatre with a force that could lower the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, delivers everything one might want and then some during his not quite believable (but who cares?) transformation from party pooper to joyful reveler.
Tomoki Sage (Nephew Fred), who projects a mostly bemused expression as he thankfully underplays his shtick, fills the space quite well until the playwrights eventually find an excuse for him to break into juggling and transcend the affliction uncommonly known as drop-itis.
Amanda Steurer-Zamora directs with a sure hand, somehow managing to keep everything alive and fluid on a stage a little larger than the floor plan of a tiny home. Terry Tennesen’s sets are delightfully naïve and uneven, and Corinne Adams’ costumes are entirely apt. Happily, Karen Anderson’s lighting and Taylor Thomas Marsh’s distortion-free sound design sail through their many challenges with distinction.
If there are any quibbles, it’s with a complete theatre redesign that lamentably failed to find space for a third bathroom that would have made extended intermissions a thing of the past.
If I almost forgot to mention that a murder mystery is as central to the plot as Shakespeare, it may be because What the Dickens?! is a play where play’s the thing and “To be or not to be” is less important than being there in the first place.