You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole

All is not well in paradise.  Granted, one may not think of the North Pole as “paradise” per se, however it is the pulsar of merriment, good cheer and free crap for kids who do the dishes on command and choose their school books over their Wi. 

Christine Lange and John Stange. (Photo: Greg Velichansky)

Children’s paradise has been marred, however.  Marred by liberally used handguns, accusations of infidelity, and what appears to be a region-wide alcohol dependency issue.  No, You Can’t Get A Decent Margarita at the North Pole is not quite for the children, but adults can feel a little naughty and nice stopping by for this comedy of errors (not straight up; with a twist).

Directed by Sara Bickler, and brought to you by Grain of Sand Theatre Company, You Can’t a Decent Margarita at the North Pole brings us to the North Pole underbelly, where Santa’s elf assistant with serious abandonment issues (Rita, played by Christine Lange) is wracking her brain to find a way into the jolly old man’s heart.  Santa, of course (Carl Brandt Long) is spoken for, while his frustrated wife (Heather Whitpan), unable to win the attention she deserves from her workaholic husband, turns to local firearm enthusiast, the Tooth Fairy (Ryan Sellers) for comfort and a few pointers on locking and loading.  A dry-humored and largely disdainful Rudolph narrates the evening, playing an antlered Puck to the ensemble’s antics.

The show, opening with familiar Christmas tunes, takes a couple of scenes to fully thaw out.  It soon catches up to the set (Kristina Nelson), which makes thoughtful use of the wonderful blackbox theatre.  Ever asked yourself what a North Pole bar would look like?  Wonder no more.  The actors’ physical comedy plays well amongst the pillars and icy streamers, and bring life to the piece.

You Can’t Get A Decent Margarita at the North Pole
Closes December 23, 2012
Fort Fringe
607 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
1 hour, 25 minutes without intermission
Tickets: $15
Thursdays thru Sundays

Written by Matt Hanft, the script is sharp and full of gems, with its wit sometimes flying by too fast to fully absorb.  Much social commentary is brought by Rudolph, a pro-union reindeer of the people whose relationship with the audience is crucial and delightful to the evening.  The chemistry within the cast is also its own gift, with Ms. Claus and the Tooth Fairy’s notable comedic sensibilities leading the way.

So how does a liberal reindeer, a heartsick elf, a mob-connected tooth fairy, an underappreciated wife, and a hapless Father Christmas reconcile their vast chasm of differences?  They go on vacation.  I won’t tell you more than that.

Though its subject matter may seem untraditional at a glance, You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole is full of the same sorts of enjoyable moments that classic comedies of errors are made of.  But it’s more than just a play, it’s also an evening.  Before and after the show, Fort Fringe boasts its own bar, where audience members can mingle and warm up with a drink.  (Unfortunately, margaritas are not served.)  Fort Fringe offers a real sense of engagement and community, while the Grain of Sand Theatre Company offers an opportunity to get good, affordable theatre back to DC patrons.  Experience this celebration of the holiday season both easy on the wallet, and hang-over free.


You Can’t Get A Decent Margarita in the North Pole . Written by Matt Hanf. Directed by Sara Bickler . Featuring Christine Lange, Carl Brandt Long, Ryan Sellers, John Stange, and Heather Whitpan. Produced by Grain of Sand Theatre and Fort Fringe. Reviewed by Sarah Ameigh.


Other reviews

Jennifer Perry . DCMetroTheaterArts
Eric Jones . ShowBizRadio


  1. I dig the Puck allusion, though I’d say Rudolph’s more like Iago after an all-nighter with the Porter from Mackers and a bottle of Scotch…



Anti-Spam Quiz:

Reprint Policy Our articles may not be reprinted in full but only as excerpts and those portions may only be used if a credit and link is provided to our website.
DC Theatre Scene is supported in part by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC.