Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011

A New Drunken Rudolph

Alison Mary Forbes joins the puppets at Carte Blanche

By Russ Bickerstaff
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That's Amy Geyser in the foreground as a loveably tortured Tiny Tim

n

I don't know if I have different standard for local productions. I just know that the big touring shows that roll through town feel like tremendous waste of time, money and talent...not unlike Broadway itself. So why do I still like Neil Haven's Who Killed Santa?

n

The adult puppet show that involves a dirty old Santa, a drunken Rudolph and resurrection through sex with a corpse is anything but sophisticated and so much of the humor is boring, obvious stuff that could be described as juvenile. So why do I still like it? Why would I still like such a show even having seen it now a THIRD time?  It's the ensemble.

n

It seems obscenely indulgent to throw such exceptional, young talent at a script that is this . . . well the word "tasteless," DOES come to mind... as do the words "childishly vulgar." 

n

The fact is that Haven's script wouldn't feel terribly good if it were being done by anyone else . . . which made me feel a bit hesitant about this year's production. The woman who played Rudolph in previous years who in previous years had been known as Sophia Dhaliwal was absolutely brilliant in the role. The puppet, which is drawn almost verbatim from the old Rankin and Bass stop motion animated TV specials, is one of the more sophisticated ones to articulate.

n

Thankfully, Sophia's replacement is Alison Mary Forbes, Forbes has worked with Haven before, most notably on a two-person comedy with Rick Pendzich, who plays The grown-up metal head Little Drummer Boy here. She has a brilliant sense f timing that makes the character of Rudolph distinctly here own . . . and is no stranger to playing a holiday drunk, Forbes had played a drunken librarian for In Tandem for a number of years. Here she’s doing the same thing with a puppet. Her Rudolph has a tremendous amount of pathos behind it . . . which is kind of weird considering it is an anthropomorphized baby caribou made of foam.  

n

Forbes’ sense of comic timing is really, really sharp and it makes the 2011 Who Killed Santa? Worth seeing even for those who may have seen it before . . . and even after the 25tth.. It’s kind of a comic deconstruction of various holiday icons . . . kind of a fun way to unwind after the 25th, I’d imagine. You’ve dealt with the shopping. You’ve dealt with the relatives. Kick back and have a drink with a foam elk puppet at a theatre just south of downtown.  

n

Neil Haven's Who Killed Santa runs through December 30th at the Carte Blanche Studio Theatre. For ticket reservations, visit Brown Paper Tickets.com

n

A more concise review of the show runs in the next Shepherd-Express. 

nn

 

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