Details on That Holiday Show You've Gotta See

From Peter Pan to Ham for the Holidays.

DesdemonaEmerald City Scene at the Little Theatre,608 19th Ave. E., 800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $10–$15. 8 p.m. Thurs.–Sun. Ends Dec. 9.How good can a story get when you already know the ending? In Paula Vogel's retelling of Othello, Shakespeare's tragedy is vividly respun in the parallel lies, jealousies, and betrayals of the Moor's female counterpart. The Emerald City Scene cast deftly redefines the Bard's femmes, liberating them from the obscurity of corsets and fainting couches and rendering them as lascivious, covetous, thoroughly three-dimensional modern women. Though the British accents were belabored at times, the chemistry among the spoiled debutante Desdemona (Christina Bruce), the grasping maid Emilia (Mikaela Hicks), and the melancholy whore Bianca (Emily Trantow) held the audience rapt from start to finish. As the play approaches its eerie conclusion, one can't help but feel regret as fate finally closes its fist around Othello's ill-fated wife. JENNA NANDHam for the Holidays: Swine, Women, and Song!Theater Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave. S., 325-6500, www.ticketwindowonline.com. $20–$23. 7:30 p.m. Wed.–Thurs., 8 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 4 p.m. Sat.–Sun. Ends Dec. 30.Imagine a holiday family reunion in which your most dysfunctional relatives arerunning wild onspiked eggnog, andyou've just barely touched the surface of this show's outrageousness. Written by comedy duo Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt, Ham features seven skits that take jabs at the Transportation Security Administration, gay men's choruses,and of course, political figures. It's worth noting that Andrew Tasakos does a better Hillary Clinton than the presidential hopeful herself. (And is, perhaps, more attractive.) Though much of the material has little to do with the holidays, it's more engaging than any sentimental Hallmark-esque crap out there this time of year.Forget Tiny Tim and his Christmas tree—you're bound to have a gay ol' time with these over-the-top comedic sensations. ERIKA HOBARTHe Sees You When You're SleepingBlood Squad at Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th Ave., www.myspace.com/bloodsquad. $10. 8 p.m. Fri.–Sat. Ends Dec. 29.Electrocuted by a string of Christmas lights. Having your intestines spun into yarn for a holiday sweater. A festive tree topper jammed through your head. Being a swatch in Santa's new flesh suit—then posthumously subjected to "it-must-be-tough-to-shave-that-thing" jokes. Though Blood Squad's improv show changes every night—audience members supply the theme by shouting out fake slasher movie titles such as "Santa Claws Your Face Off"—nothing can possibly approach the ultimate horror of opening night's performance: spending Christmas at a community center. Warped pool tables! Hot Lead and Cold Feet looping endlessly on a projector! Please God, I'll never be bad again! JOHN METCALFEMark Siano: High Times and MisdemeanorsJewel Box Theater at the Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823, www.jewelboxtheater.com. $10. 8 p.m. Fri., Dec. 7.In this mostly autobiographical one-man show, writer/performer Mark Siano puts a comic spin on a history of failed relationships, drug abuse, and college underachievement. Like many comedians, Siano really, really wants us to like him, and we're happy to oblige. The whole performance, in fact, has the feel of a class reunion, listening to an old friend reminisce about those crazy college days. Regrettably, though, I wasn't in on the jokes, and his sly references to his friends worked better for, well, his friends. Yet it's hard not to be impressed by Siano's enthusiasm and, perhaps more significantly, his talents as a lyricist. High Times' high points are undoubtedly the original songs—most notably his ode to everyone's favorite big box, "Wal-Mart Is My Bitch." Siano is one of the most relentlessly enthusiastic storytellers I've seen, and he certainly doesn't lack for stories. BRENT ARONOWITZPeter PanBook-It Theatre at Center House, Seattle Center, 216-0833, www.book-it.org. $15–$40. 7:30 p.m. Wed.–Sat., 2 p.m. Sat.–Sun. Ends Dec. 23.It was a genteel round of applause that brought Tinkerbell back to life in Book-It Theatre's Peter Pan, as if the audience were appreciating a well-struck putt on the seventh green rather than powering a resurrection—a moment trampled by the same headlong pace that squashes flat all would-be magic in this production. The actors speak at top speed (and bellow! all the time!), a particularly ill-advised strategy given an awkward conceit of director Joy Marzec's adaptation (from J.M. Barrie's 1904 original): Characters deliver bits of third-person narrative directly to the audience. A mermaid, for example, while taking Wendy by the ankles, says, "A mermaid took Wendy by the ankles." This probably wouldn't be a good idea even if the actors perfectly articulated the difference between dialogue and narrative speech, but it's disastrous given the blistering tempo and on-and-off English accents.Weirdly, one theme comes through most clearly in this cloud of yelling and sword fights: When Peter flinches from Wendy's caress while they sit by an imaginary fire, the play comes squeamishly close to the Freudian heart of the matter. All those rugged, dashing pirates and Lost Boys want the teenaged Wendy as their...mother? As Peter puts it, "One girl's worth more than 20 boys in Neverland!" You're on your own if you want to untwist that one. This is a kids' show. (A low-budget kids' show, that is. Nothing wrong with that, but it does mean no one's hoisted about by wires. Instead, actors "fly" by pantomiming surfing to swirly music and saying stuff like, "Look down there!")Even with the words muffled, many of the actors have great energy and physical presence. James Grixoni-Lewis, in the title role, strikes the right note of charm edged with petulance, leaping like a cat and gesturing with outstretched palms as if ready to fly off and join a better production of Peter Pan he's spotted in the distance. The Lost Boys take the stage with a collective Huck Finn swagger, and Eric Ray Anderson, a hammy Captain Hook, draws the production's only laughs. But it's all a lost cause. As one of the Lost Boys says at one point, "A terrible silence came over the forest"; a bit of actual silence might have created the breathing room any story needs to come alive. And given Tinkerbell the death she deserved. DAVID STOESZ 

 
comments powered by Disqus