Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: 'Chlamydia for Christmas and Herpes for Hanukkah: More Sex-Ed Burlesque for the Holidays'

A new show from Flashpoint Theatre puts some raunch into the holidays. Inquirer theater critic Howard Shapiro reviews from the Adrienne Theatre in Center City.

Review: 'Chlamydia for Christmas and Herpes for Hanukkah: More Sex-Ed Burlesque for the Holidays'

Blog Image
Gigi Naglak, fans in hand, in "Chlamydia for Christmas and Herpes for Hannukah: More Sex-Ed Burlesque for the Holidays," from Flashpoint Theater.

By Howard Shapiro

’Tis the season to be jolly, so grab some egg nog, roast a few chestnuts, don a pair of oversized holiday-colored pasties and twirl your bazooms.

That’s the way they’re celebrating the season at Flashpoint Theatre — well, OK, I admit, not the roasting chestnuts part or the egg nog — where the world premiere of the unfortunately named Chlamydia for Christmas and Herpes for Hanukkah: More Sex-Ed Burlesque for the Holidays shoots forth like hormones racing down the stairs on Christmas morning.

, which I’ll call it for short, is the brainchild, or some other part, of two of the theater company’s co-founders, Gigi Naglak and Meghann Williams, and is directed by a third, Amy Smith. It’s an offshoot of a show they did at the Live Arts Festival /Philadelphia Fringe called Chlamydia dell’Arte, which they exported to the Fringe in Washington, D.C., infusing the nation’s capital with even more lunacy.

The holiday version is, as its name implies, a series of skits for adults built around holiday themes — some merely risque, some bordering on gross, many of them very funny and dumb in a way that befits such an outing. The two women seem game for almost  anything — if you are going to put on a show like this, you’d better be — and Chlam is peppered with amusing (and sometimes serious) content on a rear-wall screen between skits.

Chlam is running at the Adrienne Theatre in repertory with Flashpoint’s traditional holiday show, a dramatization of David Sedaris’ insightful and charming The Santaland Diaries, a memoir of his days as  a department- store elf. It couldn’t be more different than Chlam in content, but the two have in common a showy irreverence.

In the 75-minute Chlam, that extends to feather dancing, striptease with a holiday bent, cooking shows (a cook-with-wine program  quickly devolves), a discussion about virgin birth between Mary and Joseph, and a mockery of those K-tel ads on TV that peddle  song compilations with quick cuts from each tune playing as  titles roll by.

In this case, the collection is of “Dildo Holiday Classics,” and even as I write this I have to stop from laughing because the idea is so outrageously stupid and its execution, so bright.  Naglak and Williams, in holiday costumes, stand to the side and sing spoofs as dildo-laden song titles roll on the back screen against a  warm holiday background.  “Feliz Novedildo” anyone?

OK, I said Chlam was as aptly dumb as it is raunchy. There’s a curious gender aspect to this show: If two talented guys did it, we’d likely dismiss them as sophomoric boys who become  men, or sophomoric men obsessed with a low-taste locker-room version of macho.

Two talented women do it, and it seems funny and emancipated and if not art, at least a clever violation of it. Gee, what does that say about sexual equality and perception? I'll tell you, after I stop laughing at that dildo thing.

Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727,, or #philastage on Twitter.


Chlamydia for Christmas and Herpes for Hanukkah: More Sex-Ed Burlesque for the Holidays: Presented by Flashpoint Theatre and playing at the Adrienne's Second Stage, 2030 Sansom St., through Dec. 17, in repertory with The Santaland Diaries. Tickets: $10-$20. Information: 215-665-9720 or  

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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