Picture this: Jacob Marley taking part in a bro handshake, Tiny Tim gabbing with his sickly friends, and Ebenezer Scrooge snagging a giant TV on Black Friday.
These are just a handful of the hysterical scenarios that the blended cast of Chicago’s The Second City and DC performers brings to the stage. Twist Your Dickens is an energetic holiday romp that’s not afraid to throw your average version of A Christmas Carol by the wayside.
Writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort made a clever choice when they decided to use Charles Dickens’ holiday classic as the vessel for their sketches. They’ve taken what’s been deemed the Christmas show, a production that’s so familiar with the general public, and molded it into blissful absurdity. It’s the familiarity that makes the constant jokes pop and land. After all, comedy is centered on the element of surprise; and when we inherently expect Scrooge’s Nephew Fred to be kindhearted, we crack up as he turns out to be, well, I won’t spoil it for you.
Twist Your Dickens bounces from sketch to sketch, providing a wealth of holiday scenes. From the three wise men discussing trickle down economics to U Street hipsters ironically visiting the island of misfit toys, this show presents social commentary that’s wrapped in jingle bells and mistletoe.
John Lescault plays a Scrooge who strikes the perfect balance of classic Dickens and wackiness. And I’m tempted to say this is my favorite version of the role. As a fan of A Christmas Carol, I loved watching him swing between the original dialogue and purely comedic discourse.
The rest of the cast members portray dozens of characters and, like any stellar comedy troupe, show a great deal of chemistry.
Costume changes are quick and the transitions between jokes flash by. They’re a well-oiled machine of sketches, not surprising considering The Second City’s history.
Twist Your Dickens
closes December 31, 2017
Details and tickets
Only one miniscule issue arises from the pacing of the second act. Several jokes drag on too long, which results in others feeling rushed. But this is just a blip in an overall funny show.
This cavalcade of fun is lovably cartoonish, taunting America’s holiday traditions while nodding at the fuzzy feeling of the season. As serious productions of A Christmas Carol are performed on various DMV stages this December, you’ll be able to kick back and crack up during the antics of a twisted kind of Dickens show.
The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens by Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort. Directed by Frank Caeti. Featuring Carisa Barreca, Aaron Bliden, Anne Bowles, Paul Jurewicz, John Lescault, Eric M. Messner, and Tia Shearer. Lighting design: Brittany Shemuga. Costume design: Ivania Stack. Scenic design: Tom Buderwitz. Sound design: Reid May. Stage manager and Production manager: Bekah Wachenfeld. Properties design: Patti Kalil. Production assistants: Michael Donnay, Josie Felt, Donna Reinhold. CEO/Executive producer: Andrew Alexander. Vice president of production: Jen Hoyt. Producer: Jeremy Smith. Casting: Beth Kligerman. Reviewed by Emily Priborkin.