Highly Recommended **** “Twist Your Dickens” is an absolute hoot! At the same time as Larry Yando is wowing audiences in the Goodman Theatre’s traditional production of “The Christmas Carol” in the Albert Theatre, Second City has taken over the Owen with “Twist Your Dickens”. Even though it’s the second time around, I still laughed ‘til my cheeks hurt! I give “Twist Your Dickens” 4 BIG Spotlights.
The fun starts in the lobby, where people were asked to jot down the worst thing they’d ever done to someone else on strips of red and green paper. After a few recorded Christmas carols, a barber shop quartet, each wearing a name tag – Marley, Past, Present and Future – begin the show.
As Ebenezer Scrooge (Francis Guinan) and his clerk, Bob Cratchit (Tim Sniffen), are working, a guy in the audience stood up and asked if this was supposed to be an historically accurate production because the four drawer file cabinet on stage hadn’t been invented yet. The guy continued to aggravate Scrooge, who drew big laughs when he said something to the effect that Larry Yando didn’t have to put up with this crap.
When Jacob Marley (Peter Gwinn) appeared to haunt Scrooge, he wore red and green paper chains. Guess what was on those links? Taking turns, Marley and Scrooge opened and read several horrible, mean, but hysterically funny confessions provided by audience members.
Christmas Past (Travis Turner) came right out of the 80’s – white fluffy wings, red and green warm-up suit, yellow high tops, boom box and bad hair. He took Scrooge back to a family scene from the 80’s; to the 60’s – same exact scene; and to the 20’s – same exact scene again. Between each scene, he asked the audience to yell out a decade, then made fun of the answers.
Christmas Present (Beth Melewski), a very drunk lady in a blue robe over a Bears sleep shirt, staggered Scrooge to the Cratchit house to see Mrs. Cratchit (Danielle Pinnock) and Tiny Tim (Sue Salvi), who moved by inches across the stage.
There was a deformed toys sketch which had nothing to do with Dickens, a “Peanuts” sketch, which was kind of a dud, and Tiny Tim’s party which was very funny but politically incorrect. His friends all had disabilities which involved falling, crawling or inching along the floor.
In another funny sketch, Tiny Tim sang with famous movie orphans like Annie, Dorothy and Batman. Personally I would have thought Batman’s ward, Robin, would have fit in better than the big B. George Bailey kept turning up too.
Another sketch involved a girl singer/pop star in a sparkly red dress who was recording a Christmas album while drinking a martini. To the dismay of her director, she kept substituting up her own lyrics – i.e. Chet’s nuts roasting on an open fire! Her own holiday hit based on the phrase Eggnog Nightmare – which was provided by an audience member – was ribald and hysterically funny.
Christmas Future, a sort of creepy black plant-like character, never spoke, but produced a couple of hands, a light saber and a Styrofoam finger from somewhere within his costume. By the way, instead of the very large turkey intended for the Cratchets, the boy Scrooge calls over – turns up with a burrito from Chipotle’s.
“Twist Your Dickens, or Scrooge You!” runs through December 27th at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago. Running time is 2 hours with an intermission.
Wednesdays at 3:00 and 7:30
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8:00
Saturdays at 4:00 and 8:00
Sundays at 3:00 and 7:00.
For schedule changes due to the holiday, check www.goodmantheatre.org. Tickets range from $15-$45. Parking is available at the reduced rate of $23 in the Government Center Garage (with a validation) or you can take advantage of an online payment option: payment in advance is just $16.00. FYI (312) 443-3800 or www.goodmantheatre.org.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click on “Twist Your Dickens”.
Editor’s Note: I had a ball with this show last year and was sorry that I had to miss this edition.
Don’t miss it!!!