"Uncle Dickie's Wicked Little Christmas"

Elves, suicide, and an amorous coat rack in a three-play variety show

The centerpiece of this three-play variety show on twisted Christmas themes is a longer one-act by Anthony Neilson called The Night Before Christmas. Neilson is a London and Edinburgh Fringe Fest playwright, and his comedy about a group of lowlifes who find one of Santa's elves is amusing, if not gripping. Gary (Brian Perkins), Simon (Jon Wolanske), and a prostitute named Cherry (Alexia Burland) have no idea what to do with the green-clad little man who claims to have fallen off "the sledge" until they realize he can grant them three wishes. But while they decide what to wish for, the elf (Elan Freydenson) begins to die. The show is not as fast-paced and savage as it should be, though Burland's foulmouthed prostitute helps in that respect. Holding by Margery Kreitman is better. It's a simple, short skit about a man trying to kill himself during the Christmas season. Standing on a bridge over a river, he calls a suicide hotline on his cell and finds himself in a voice-mail maze worthy of Kaiser. "As a service to our customers, if you were going to leave a suicide note, you may record one after the tone." Etc. P.A. Cooley, as the hapless suicide, makes it very funny. But Ken Slattery's The Christmas Gift is funny only in theory. Two annoying couples try to pressure their single friend Tom (W. Jay Moore) into a relationship with a coat rack so he won't be single for the holidays. The ordinarily gay Cooley portrays a straight guy in flannel, which is as fine a joke as the play's conceit, but after a few minutes, all the humor wears thin.

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