Saturday, October 10, 2015


By Toby Zinman



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

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
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.

Philly Stage
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter