I’m a sucker for a laugh-filled, non-traditional holiday comedy, and that’s exactly what director Pete Jacokes and his merry band of elfin writers/improvisers deliver late nights this month in “O’Holy S#!t: A Christmas Tale” at Hamtramck’s Planet Ant Theatre.
Set inside a Saks Fifth Avenue at a suburban Detroit shopping mall, Chris – the head Santa Chris (played by Matt Naas) – is struggling to meet the strict demands of the holiday season, but his motley crew doesn’t share his enthusiasm for the season’s traditions. And the fact that the shy, awkward Santa is falling in love with one of his elves, the beautiful (but not-so-bright) Gwendolyn (Anne Faba), only complicates matters.
Add to that a not-so closeted, but fashionably flashy gay Santa (Marke Sobolewski); a young, depressed Santa-in-training (Joe Hingelberg); a French woman on the lam from the international police (Suzan M. Jacokes); and a department store cop in search of a thief (Hingelberg in a double role), and the result is a Christmas season none of them will soon forget.
Nor will the audience, thanks to the usually fine efforts of director Jacokes and his talented cohorts.
Naas and Faba have developed stock characters that each has fine-tuned over the years, and both Naas’ lovable, low-key everyman and Faba’s sweet, gorgeous dimwit are well utilized here – and nicely matched.
And Hingelberg masterfully draws laughs with his oh-so-slow takes and responses.
But it’s the team of Suzan Jacokes and Sobolewski who steal the show. As co-conspirators Claudette and Landon, the two are determined to make their holiday dreams come true (at everyone else’s expense, of course) – and the actors deliver their over-the-top double-entendres with gleeful, shameless abandon. Claudette’s reactions every time Landon talks about his “girlfriend” are especially priceless. (There are rolled eyes, exasperated sighs and air quotes galore!)
For sheer guts, however, Sobolewski deserves praise (and possibly sympathy) for appearing in public wearing what is probably the most bizarre Santa suit ever devised.
‘O’Holy S#!t: A Christmas Tale’
Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck. 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday through Dec. 27. Tickets: $5. For information: 313-365-4948 or http://www.planetant.com