We Love Arts: A Commedia Christmas Carol

Production photo from A Commedia Christmas Carol.
Presented at Gallaudet University, Nov 29 – Dec 23.
Left to Right: Joel David Santner, Toby Mulford, Tyler Herman,
Sandra Mae Frank, Jessica Willoughby and Paul Reisman.
Photo by Second Glance Photography.

I know, you’re sitting around thinking man, I could really go for some Dickens this holiday season, but the lack of creepy masks and physical humor has always made me think it could be better. Well, good news: there’s a production company in town looking to serve your needs. And through December 23rd you’ll have your chance to see it.

And you really should.

Faction of Fools’ A Commedia Christmas Carol is a great re-imagining of the classic we’re all (painfully?) familiar with – Scrooge’s disdain, Cratchet’s deranged optimism, the three nocturnal poltergeists, Tim and his enthusiastic well-wishes for a world that feels compelled to comment on his height every time they address him. Directory Matthew R. Wilson sensibly looked at this less sensible play and found the right places to slather on some shenanigans – as well as the right places to play it straight.

Press photo from A Commedia Christmas Carol. Presented at Gallaudet University,
Nov 29 – Dec 23. Left to Right: Paul Reisman and Toby Mulford. Photo by Second Glance Photography.

The hardest thing to take adjustment to might be the masks.

Scratch that.

The hardest thing to deal with are the huge, creepy, encephalitic heads that a few characters wear; most notably Tiny Tim. If there’s a rhyme or reason to why a few characters sport huge noggins rather than the half-masks most everyone else wears I couldn’t puzzle it out. But the first time one enters the stage the audience was tittering somewhere between amused and disturbed. It’s possible they took a ball to the head during the pre-show warm-up.

But that bit of nightmare aside, the other masks quickly seem reasonable. Paradoxically their fixed expressions seem to allow the actors to mug and engage in a bit of humor without it seeming to turn into overly-large mugging.

And shenanigans there are, aplenty. We managed to catch a few extras when a sound booth malfunction spontaneously raised the question “for whom the bell tolls.” (Answer: not Scrooge, at least not when it was supposed to) Paul Reisman didn’t miss a beat and mixed in the unexpected. Slightly more scripted were various declarations of love from young Scrooge during his flashback, including a visual Say Anything boombox reference that successfully brought a smile to this Gen-Xer’s face.

It was a smile that had plenty of company though the evening.

Faction of Fools’ A Commedia Christmas Carol plays at the Elstad Auditorium on Gallaudet University’s campus, 800 Florida Ave NE. Closest Metro stop: N.Y. Ave (Red line). There’s a CaBi station right at the campus’ entrance too. For more information check the Faction of Fools website. Tickets available online.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


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