Independent producer SweetLove Productions returns to The Ringwald with its second annual Christmas comedy, “F$$$ the Holidays: A Seasonal Retail Story.” And while it would have been understandable to come back with a sequel to last year’s Wilde Award-nominated “The Real Housewives of the North Pole,” creators Cara Trautman and Marke Sobolewski have instead teamed up to create a totally different holiday treat that had a recent Saturday night audience laughing pretty much from start to finish.
And for good reason: For not only does the script offer a sweet, but unique look at the holiday spirit, notable performances by two of its actors lift the production from “thoroughly entertaining” to “memorable.”
Set in nearby rival paint stores, Kirsten (Trautman) is the aggressive, by-the-book manager of a local Paintco outlet. Thoroughly dedicated to her job, the no-nonsense woman has plans to one day rise to the top of this regional chain – despite the toll it’s taking on her personal life. (She has none, thanks to her intense drive and sour attitude.)
The opposite story is found at Jablonski & Son’s Paint Store, where Jeremy (Sobolewski) – the second generation manager – would rather follow his dreams than work in the family business. But an obligation is an obligation – which means he too lives an unhappy and unfulfilled life.
So as you can imagine, working for either boss is no picnic. Yet both 47-year Jablonski employee Eleanor (Melissa Beckwith) and Paintco’s Andy (Joe Hingelberg) persevere – at least until the young man gets fired for failing his random drug test. And that’s when the caulk gun hits the fan!
Although each character is carefully drawn by the playwrights – and in the case of the store managers, nicely acted by them, too – Beckwith and Hingelberg take their roles and imbue them with a rich vitality that raises an already engaging production to a higher level.
Beckwith’s Eleanor is cut from the same cloth as Ann Morgan Guilbert’s Yetta Rosenberg from TV’s “The Nanny.” She’s old, she’s feisty and she says what she thinks – and usually in very colorful terms. Beckwith’s interpretation is more than just fine comedic line delivery, however; it includes spot-on gestures, facial expressions and movements – going so far as to keep fully in character while assisting with the scene changes, which are done in the dark, where it really wouldn’t matter to the casual viewer. But here, it adds to her overall performance.
The production’s heart and soul, however, are found in Hingelberg’s Andy. The young philosopher dances through life to a beat of a drummer no one hears but himself – and that explains why many people believe he’s always high. But Andy simply sees life through different eyes, and Hingelberg’s sweet and fearless performance is his best yet!
Direction by Joe Plambeck is efficient and brisk, and his simple set allows for quick changes.
As the second non-traditional holiday comedy to open this month in Ferndale, “F$$$ the Holidays: A Seasonal Retail Story” is a delightful addition to the schedule. So if you prefer your holiday entertainment to be a different type of merry, a trip to Ferndale should be on your holiday wish list this year!
‘F$$$ the Holidays: A Seasonal Retail Story’
Sweet Love Productions at The Ringwald Theatre, 22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Friday-Sunday through Dec. 19, plus Monday, Dec. 20; times vary. $10. 248-545-5545. http://whowantscaketheatre.com