A Dirty ‘30s Christmas
A campy romp to cure holiday depression
|Chemically Imbalanced Comedy presents|
|A Dirty ‘30s Christmas:
The Lynx That Didn’t Steal Christmas
Review by Keith Glab
Mary Beth (Lindsey Smith) wants to give her excitable son Charlie (Ray Gordan) a terrific Christmas despite the difficult times of the 1930s. Her abusive, alcoholic husband (Phil Meister), multiple armed break-ins at the bank below their apartment, and an uninvited guest entering through the window (Mike Johnson) conspire to ruin the day.
Welcome to A Dirty ‘30s Christmas: The Lynx That Didn’t Steal Christmas. This campy, 50-minute holiday romp is both written and directed by Farrell Walsh. His off-the-wall script is grounded enough in absurdist logic to form a cohesive narrative, and he gets his cast to find humorous moments even in parts of the text that aren’t obviously funny on their own.
The Lynx (Mike Johnson) is an ultra-polite thief whose pride sometimes gets in the way of his cover. George Serad plays a bumbling sheriff who has all the efficacy of Inspector Gadget and fawns over Mary Beth, who shuns his advances. Meister finds a lot of understated humor as the jealous husband and maintains a threatening presence despite standing about six inches shorter than his wife. As Charlie, Gordan is an endless bundle of energy that spills out into the entire production.
Lindsey Smith is outstanding as the straight woman, providing fodder for the other actors and keeping everything real enough to be funny, while maintaining a twinkle in her eye that acknowledges the absurdity surrounding her. Even she has trouble not breaking character during some of the plays funnier moments, though. On the one hand, it’s not intended as a serious play, and the fact that the cast is having fun enhances the audience’s enjoyment. There are times, however, when the giggling and smirking becomes problematic. This is particularly so in the case of Margaret (Denise Boylan), the catatonic bank teller who is enlisted to babysit for Charlie. If Boylan were able to maintain a stoic countenance, the moments when other characters address, manipulate, and even decorate her would be that much funnier.
In a similar vein, if Johnson’s accent was more obviously British, the times that he’s insulted about being mistaken for Irish and his calling himself Danish as a cover would heighten humor. It’s already a funny production, but some tightening could make it a riot.
Despite a few problems, this rather unique show never gets dull. If you’re looking for a quick, casual evening that leaves you with a smile on your face, give A Dirty ‘30s Christmas a try.
A Dirty ‘30s Christmas: The Lynx That Didn’t Steal Christmas continues through January 12th at Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1422 W. Irving Park (map), with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets are $12, and are available by phone (773-865-7731) or online through BrownPaperTickets.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at CIComedy.com. (Running time: 50 minutes, no intermission)
Photos by Farrell Walsh
Ray Gordan (Charlie), Lindsey Smith (Mary Beth), George Serad (Roy), Phil Meister (Francis), Denise Boylan (Margaret), Mike Johnson (The Lynx)
behind the scenes