A Klingon Christmas Carol
Written by Christopher Kidder-Mostrom
Trekkies & Trekkie-friendly : Warp 9 to this fun take on holiday classic
|Commedia Beauregard presents|
|A Klingon Christmas Carol|
Review by Clint May
If you, gentle reader, have made it past the title, I’m going to assume one of two things. One: You know what a Klingon is and are super stoked to see this pop up on the theatre scene again and are Warp 9-ing it to the box office before you finish this sentence. Two: You have no idea what a Klingon is and hope this article will answer that for you. Well no luck on number two, I’ll let someone else do that. This review—and the production—is decidedly for fellow Trekkies like myself who know who Worf is, the various classes of Birds of Prey, and can maybe speak enough Klingon to ask where the bathroom is (“nuqDaq ‘oH puchpa”e’). Yes, Klingon is a full-fledged constructed language (not unlike Tolkein’s Elvish), originated by Marc Okrand and kept alive by the Klingon Language Institute, and this production is 100% spoken Klingon (with English supertitles). Commedia Beauregard specializes in other cultures (and apparently doesn’t care if they are fictional or not) and translated works, and this is one of its most popular productions. Those of you who can’t wait for ComiCon to break out that red shirt costume or your forehead ridges will undoubtedly find this a most honorable way to get into the holiday spirit.
At this point, there are more versions of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol than there are versions of Monopoly (and before you ask, yes, there absolutely is a Klingon Monopoly). You know the story by heart either by having read or seen it. The great change here is that Scrooge is now SQuja’ (Kevin Alves), an old Klingon moneylender who never passed his Rite of Ascension and seems doomed to ride the Barge of the Dead, not to honorable Sto’Vo’Kor, but shameful Gre’Thor. Only the intercession of his dead trading partner MarlI’ (Jovan King) and the ghosts of Kahlesss Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come (Mike Danovich, Phil Zimmermann, Mark Lancaster) can show SQuja’ the error of his dishonorable ways and forge a true warrior where once only a coward stood. There are plenty of winks and nods to astute Star Trek viewers, including a 60s-era Klingon for the Ghost of Kahless past and the sound of a transporter to move SQuja’ through time. We the audience take the role of students in a Vulcan-led class on comparative literature, with this story and Dickens being the focus this particular session. That may mean the entire show is taking place on a holodeck, but he doesn’t say “Computer, end program” when finished, so probably not. Even Tiny Tim gets reinvented as a scene-stealing puppet who walks with the aid of not a cane but a miniature bat’leth.
Alves is certainly an able physical and comedic actor, and he doesn’t just chew but eats the scenery alive—as well he should—as SQuja’ (roughly pronounced scoo-JAH), with a fully able cast of well-practiced Klingon speakers supporting him. Van Tassell keeps the pacing brisk, whittling down the story to its essential components and keeping the entirety spry and light. Though this is something of a farce, it’s clear they take this production very seriously and have spent a lot of time crafting something that goes above a mere camp curio which many so-intentioned productions devolve into (which I must confess, I completely expected to find). Costumes , language coaching, and makeup have all been attended to with the utmost respect that true Trek aficionados demand. It completely succeeds at doing just what it sets out to do
That said, it’s difficult to wholeheartedly recommend a production such as this because of its inherently esoteric appeal. But if you find your heart a little Humbugged this holiday because C2E2 is still five months away, grab your mek’leth, eat some Rokeg blood pie, and transport yourself over to this endearingly dorky twist on a classic.
A Klingon Christmas Carol continues through December 30th at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map), with performances Thursdays thru Sundays with varying show times, check website for details. Tickets are $20-$28, and are available online through their website (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at CBTheatre.org. (Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes, includes an intermission)
Photos by Guy F. Wicke (note: pictures from 2010 production)
Brendan T. Stallings (Narrator), Kevin Alves (SQuja’), Jon Beal (QachIt), David Coupe (vreD), Clark Bender (Huch qoy’wI’ 1, veSIwIq), Sarah Camargo (Huch qoy’ wI’ 2, ‘emlI’), Jovan King (MarlI’, Warrior 1), Mike Danovich (qeylIS Past, Guest 1), Erik Johnson (young SQuja’, Apathy, Boy), Ali Kidder-Mostrom (Qe’pa, marja’), Wyatt Weber (Qob, Warrior 2, Guest 2), Jacqueline Salamack (van, Corruption), Mark Lancaster (wIlqInS, Guest 3, qeylIS Future), Christina Romano (bel, Seller), Josh Zargoren (Warrior 3), Phil Zimmermann (qeylIS Present, Merchant)
behind the scenes
Eric Van Tassell (director, lighting); Jon Silpayamanant, Il Troubadoure (composers), Terrence Donnely (lyricist); Laura Thurson, Bill Hedrick, Christopher Kidder-Mostrom (Klingon co-translators); Amy Hopkins (stage manager); Jeremy Cowan, Chris Lipscombe (language coaches); Ali Kidder-Mostrom (language captain); Zach Livingston (fight choreographer); Jon Beal (fight captain); Christopher Kidder-Mostrom (costumes), Marc Malnekoff (weapon master); Kat Pleviak (puppet design), Bill Hendrick (prosthetics); Guy F. Wicke (photos)