Returning to the Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre is the sketch comedy show based on the ghostly old Holiday chestnut by Charles Dickens. Written by Second City alums, Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort, The Second City’s “A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!” opens this Thursday, December 12 and runs through December 29, 2013.
While this show consists of a barely above-average series of sketches, at least it’s not a tired old rendition of the classic tale… The comedians do their best to mix it up, ostensibly setting the story in its original Victorian period, but playing around with the storyline and adding modern touches here and there as well as inserting new dialogue and numerous comedy sketches throughout. But while there are some laughs to be had, this approach is hit and miss.
Directed by Marc Warzecha, the cast features alums from Second City – the renowned sketch comedy troupe. The cast is made up of a talented group of Second City performers. Returning to “Twist Your Dickens!” for the second time are Frank Caeti, Amanda Blake Davis and Ron West. Joining them are Ithamar Enriquez, Brendan Jennings, Joe Liss and Jaime Moyer. The production changes nightly as this highly honed team of improvisational all-stars will be joined by a surprise celebrity guest and a parade of anonymous revelations of ‘misdeeds past’ from each performance’s audience members.
Additionally, that the cast also features an ever-changing special cameo performance (which means a different person will appear every night at the beginning of Act Two) barely rates a mention. Basically we have a show that starts off as the Dickens’ classic, but with various anachronisms, such as a blue tooth earphone prominently placed in Bob Cratchit’s ear. Pretty soon an “audience member” calls out to protest, and is told off in no uncertain terms by cranky old Scrooge (Ron West).
Then the sketches kick in. The first, overlong sketch, in which a woman who seems dismayed that her husband has given her a valuable antique ring instead of a cheap one from Kay’s Jewelers, falls completely flat. Throughout the show there are a handful of filler sketches in front of the house curtain (while they change some scenery), including an amusing one of a TV ad where barristers Chuzzlewit and Pumblechook (famous Dickens characters) urge us to call them for representation.
The whole show is sprinkled with political satire and pop culture references, including a scene with the beloved characters from the comic strip Peanuts and references to famous orphans such as Harry Potter, Annie and Batman.
In fact, there are more comedy bits than storyline, which I suppose is to be expected from this troupe. The Second City’s hybrid of satire mixed with a beloved Christmas tale results in a two-hour evening of slightly above average sketch comedy.
The Second City’s “A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!”
Kirk Douglas Theatre
9820 Washington Blvd.,
Runs through December 29, 2013.
Tickets and more info here.
Box Office – (213) 628-2772