Plaid Tidings

Good news at two musical revues; GZTC counts the 12 plays of Christmas

Like those little unexpected goodies stuffed in a Christmas stocking, Christmas at Ground Zero is full of small, tasty surprises. Yule Pay for That by Robert Meyers-Morgan, directed by Matt Tomlanovich, features Sean Perez and Brian Witkowicz as unscrupulous ad men determined to rid the world of Santa, a character who can't be copyrighted or profited from. In Santa's place they install "Blizzarre," a violent comic-book superhero who makes the red-suited fat man look like "a giant, mutant, power-crazed Insanity Claus." As a comment on media manipulation, this plot's not so far-fetched. Our collective image of Old St. Nick came from illustrations on Coca-Cola ads.

Think Tanks by Isabella Russell-Ides, also directed by Tomlanovich, finds two bubbas drinkin' and spittin' as they try to sort out the state of the world. "If there never was a Jesus," muses Dwayne (John Hammers), "we wouldn't be fightin' these A-rabs!" Dwayne considers mayonnaise a "gourmet food." He and Darrell (Witkowicz) suspect that Disney is behind the unrest in the Middle East. It's a funny little script, even if the characters do say "Woo doggies."

James Venhaus provides the two funniest plays in this year's collection. Directed by Wm. Paul Williams, Santa's Little Helper stars the delectable Andra Laine as the office wench, spicing up the back room at a company Christmas party. But what she provides her male suitors is more gift from the heart than of the flesh. Venhaus' writing here is sharp and tight, managing to get across loads of subtext in just a few pages. Laine goes solo in Venhaus' Happy Holidays From Anderson, Davis, Seton & Fenner, playing a phone-crazed receptionist trying to get away on the eve of Christmas Eve. Tangled in the headset, half in, half out of an elf suit, sobbing in comic frustration, Laine is as loony and lovable as Lucy.

Forever and ever: The four lads of Plaid give Plano retro charm.
Forever and ever: The four lads of Plaid give Plano retro charm.


continues at Plano Repertory Theatre through December 21. Call 972-422-7460.

Flocked, running late nights on weekends in WaterTower Theatre's Black Box space, is an R-rated assault on holiday goodness by the PUNCH DRUnK COMEDY troupe. And good for them. In just over an hour of sketches and blackouts, they are sacrilegious, politically incorrect and insulting to people with disabilities. They'll all get lumps of coal this year for being so rude, but at least they're brave enough to provide much-needed doses of dark humor for those of us fed up to here with Charlie Browns and Little Drummer Boys.

Brendan Ahern, Kelli Elandis, Rasa Hollender and Duane Jones are the perpetrators of Flocked. Jones is hi-dang-larious as a half-drunk redneck trying to call for help from under a "tannenbaum of terror." Hollender is "Patty the Witness," the super-Christian offending everyone with her over-the-top office nativity display. Hollender also narrates A Christmas Carol performed by "Raw Meat Theater." Scrooge is a huge raw turkey. The choir is a pack of weenies. Tiny Tim is a can of Starkist, just as he should be.

This is comedy bizarre, sometimes frightening, mostly really, really funny. PUNCH DRUnK may not have the Christmas spirit, but they do have Christmas balls.

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