MERRY F***IN' CHRISTMAS Y'ALL - At the Eclectic Company Theater Dec 6 - Jan 5




The first scene opens without much further ado, bringing us right into the story. A story which is dissecting a very contemporary topic: same sex relationships and their rivalry for acceptance in society. But much more than that, the play is also about a much broader theme, so dear to us Americans, especially during Christmas time: our families, and extended families. Marnie Olsen, who believably plays the shamed lesbian daughter, Mia, and out of whose pen originated the narrative, does an excellent job at portraying in a limited amount of solo stage time, the involuntary dichotomy of her character, lining out the development of her relationship with her mother. Could this relationship have been investigated further, deeper and in a more meaningful way?- Yes, but the major theme might have suffered from it. What the writer was attempting to do was admirable, yet, if she had been seeking more depth, instead of more entertainment, she should have had to limit herself to exploring one theme. And we were touching upon various themes during the course of this play: family, mother-daughter, mother-son, mother-in-law relationships, then relationships between sisters, and brothers, and in-laws, relationships across the ages, and of different backgrounds.


Marnie Olson (l.), Erin Treanor


There were a great deal of interesting topics just barely making an appearance, which the audience would have liked to see, if not solved, so maybe at least seen the attempt of being explained, and brought to conciliation, but maybe that was not the point of this play. Maybe the point was to use few clues, to illuminate what the audience is familiar with in their own families, and thus create the background for the main story. An audience favorite was Rhiannon, portrayed by Ivy Jones, an experienced screen and stage actress. She gave the play the theatrical, dramatic, and most of all humorous note, its title had anticipated. Liam’s character, played by Mike Goulis, and Ivy Jones, as Rhiannon did a marvelous thing at capturing the audience’s attention and made it laugh out loud, when it was about to think this play was really going to be a drama. Which every comedy is, in its essence, has to be.


Mike Goulis, Ivy Jones


There was a brilliant balance between dramatic, and comedic aspects, and the timing was great during the middle part, went a bit off in the end, and let us wait a bit too long in the beginning. Certainly a play to remember, there were only few incoherencies. For example: why did Rachel’s character, skillfully portrayed by one of the producers, Caroline Marshall, intrude on a family scene, which was already ripe with excitement and chaos at such a late point in the story? And why was there no real bonding between the mother-in-law, and her daughter’s future wife, and mother of her grandchild? Maybe the story would have done well in exploring less themes all at once, and focus more on one theme, so we had time to really understand what this play was trying to convey. Or maybe the play simply had needed an extra thirty minutes, to let us know that there are characters with depth, which the audience was more than willing to explore further.


Daniel Pittack (l.), Caroline Marshall, Dianne Travis


The scenery and stage preparation were perfectly done, and soundtrack and atmosphere conveyed the kind of humorous environment the play was portraying. Every actor thoroughly owned their performance, and role, and seemed to be sure about where and when they had to act at any given point during the narrative. Lucie, played by the talented Dianne Travis, Gunnar, realistically played by Daniel Pittack, and Alana, played by Erin Treanor, who was also one of the producers, were well developed and executed characters, which really supported the story. And Curtis’ character, portrayed by Julian Vican, was simply a genius, and highly humorous addition to an already great cast.


Dianne Travis (l.), Marnie Olson


The play did certainly convey one very clear message across the board: Social and cultural diversity and acceptance of our differences can be a whole lot of fun, but can also be very stressful, and demands us to be the best of who we can be. The whole crew and cast have a lot of potential and depth to explore, and I am looking forward to seeing more plays at the Eclectic Company Theater with this, or a similarly talented, and skilled cast and crew. The director Kerr Lordygan did a great job at securing his actors in their role on stage, and Light and Sound Designer, Board Operator, and Graphic Designer Joshua Silva operated in his various capacities as a seasoned professional. Phil Sokoloff does an excellent job as publicist.


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Daniel Pittack (l.), Marnie Olson, Julian Vican, Mike Goulis

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