By Toby Zinman
For the Inquirer
Irreverence, thy name is Christopher Durang. Kicking the crutch out from under Tiny Tim, Durang’s Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge, a spoof of Dickens’ famously sentimental A Christmas Carol, is not nearly as amusing as it should be. And this is despite New City Stage’s having assembled a large and impressive Equity cast. The show limps along (oops, sorry Tiny Tim) under the slow and plodding (oops—did it again) direction of Michael Brophy.
The idea is funny: Durang reimagines the characters of A Christmas Carol (with dollops of Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, A Wonderful Life and some O’Henry thrown in): Bob Cratchit (Sam Henderson), longsuffering father of Tiny Tim (Amanda Schoonover) and ill-treated employee of Ebenezer Scrooge (Paul Nolen) still suffers long and is still treated ill.
But Mrs. Bob Cratchit has had it: fed up with humble wretchedness, she decides to ditch the hungry kids, knock back a few Tequila Sunrises, and jump off London Bridge. Misery has made her mean, which mean old Ebenezer Scrooge finds a turn-on.
The feeble shenanigans (including some of the lamest –oops, sorry sorry—songs ever sung on a professional stage) continue under the guidance of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and To Come. Said ghost (Lauren Fitzgerald, who seems unsure of her lines and her singing voice) discovers that the moral of the story isn’t emerging as Dickens had intended; instead, the plot reveals that rich, mean people are in fact much happier than poor, noble people.
The whole business seems inexplicably and embarrassingly amateurish. Notwithstanding contemporary references to fracking and the 99%, the satiric message falls flat (oh, no, not again!).When comedy tries to depend on making silly faces and wearing silly wigs and animal masks for its laughs, something has gone seriously wrong.
New City Stage at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. Through Dec.23. Tickets $22-26. Information: 215-563-7500 or Box.Office@NewCityStage.org.