One Delightful Disaster

You’ll shed a tear for Charles Dickens as his beloved classic, A Christmas Carol, is butchered by the inept hands of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic in the comedy The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Presents “A Christmas Carol” written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin, Jr.

This splendid play within a play centers on the hapless Farndale Guild Dramatic and their pathetic attempt to mount Dickens’ legendary holiday tale.  Missed cues, rancid acting, egos, ill timed scene changes, wardrobe malfunctions, and wounded performers are just some of things that allow the Farndale Guild Dramatic to reach new highs in lows as it completely redefines the meaning of bad play.

This is the most believable play this writer has seen in years.  It takes a very great actor to come off as a very bad actor and this entire cast superbly pulls it off as they seem like the rankest of rank amateurs and kept the audience howling all night in the process.

Laura Marr portrays Phoebe Reese, the platinum haired president of the guild.  While not explicitly stated, it’s implied that Phoebe “directed” this train wreck as she calls the shots of the show as well as serving as narrator, announcer, and playing multiple characters.  Ms Marr’s comedic timing is spot on as she schmoozes with the audience, enters scenes as the wrong characters, and stops the play for an impromptu monologue about a dress she wanted to wear as the wife of Scrooge’s nephew, Fred.  A song and dance number insulting Ebenezer Scrooge is the highlight of Ms Marr’s performance as she awkwardly dances with a sword and continuously hurts herself in the process.

David Sindelar shines as Gordon Pugh, the put upon stage manager of this farce.  Sindelar’s Gordon is utterly hopeless as a stage manager as he brings scenery and props on too soon, too late, or not at all.  As bad as he is a stage manager, he is even worse as an actor as he delivers his lines in a stilted, monotone voice while keeping his arms pasted to his sides.  Sindelar nearly steals the show with a gutbusting rendition of Jacob Marley whose constant shrieking, “Whooo!!!!” frustrates the actress playing Ebenezer Scrooge to no end.

Rose Glock is fabulous as Thelma Longbottom.  Longbottom is a diva of the worst kind.  Not only is she snooty and demanding, but she believes she is an acting goddess when she actually does not even have the chops to outperform a brick wall.  Ms Glock performs a bit of theatre magic with her character’s take on Ebenezer Scrooge.  Her interpretation of Longbottom’s Scrooge does little more than strut around the stage with jutted jaw and bent knees in a performance so ludicrously awful, it’s wonderful.  Ms Glock’s Longbottom reaches the height of arrogance when she spontaneously adapts Macbeth’s “Is this a dagger?” speech for Scrooge’s conciliatory dialogue with the charity collector simply because the vicar thinks she should be performing on the West End stage.

Seldom has this writer seen a performer do more with less than Sherry Fletcher’s portrayal of Mercedes Mildenhall-Smythe.  Mercedes plays multiple characters despite the fact that she is terribly injured.  Wearing a neck brace, eyepatch, and a sling, Ms Fletcher shuffled her way through an amazing performance that somehow managed to be incredibly animated despite little to no body movement.

Lorie Obradovich’s Felicity Jones-Potter vastly outstrips the other characters in terms of acting ability.  Ms Obradovich’s Felicity is the only actor who actually possesses talent as she ably portrays diverse characters such as Fred, Belle, and one of the thieves who loot Scrooge’s home after his death.  However, the stage is the only place where she shows confidence as Felicity is quite mousey away from it.  She is easily dominated by the others as she makes tea for the cast and is compelled to deliver dialogue praising Thelma Longbottom’s beauty.  Yet this mouse manages to somewhat pull the group’s collective fat out of the fire when she improvises a Christmas dance to buy time for a costume change.

This gaggle of comedic geniuses provides a great night of comedy.  You will never have more fun seeing “bad” theatre than this show which is certainly a comedic triumph for the Circle.

The Farndale Avenenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Presents “A Christmas Carol” plays at the Circle Theatre for three more performances on Dec 12 & 19 at 8pm and Dec 20 at 2pm.  An optional dinner is served one hour before curtain.  Tickets for dinner and show are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, and $20 for students and TAG members ($15, $13, and $10 for show only).  For reservations call 402-553-4715 or e-mail dlmarr@cox.net.  The Circle Theatre is located inside of First United Methodist Church at 7020 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

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