note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Carl A. Rossi
In my scribbles for YULE EN ROUGE, I mentioned the effectiveness of a production in relation to the theatre space that houses it, and Centastage’s holiday revue SPIKED EGGNOG, which played at the Boston Center for the Arts, was a good example of a merry, wicked evening finding a happy home. The BCA is known for housing works from an assortment of theatre companies --- the established as well as the newborn --- with a definite lean towards the Different or the Overlooked. Excellent, unusual and/or challenging theatre glowed within the walls of the BCA this year: among them, The SpeakEasy’s THE WILD PARTY and BATBOY: THE MUSICAL (which will be flapping back into town next month); The Coyote Theatre’s THE HOUSE OF YES and the deconstructed UNCLE TOM’S CABIN; The Bridge Theatre’s DOCTOR FAUSTUS; the enchanting PAN from Company One; Bette Bourne in one of the year’s finest performances --- Quentin Crisp in RESIDENT ALIEN (The Theatre Offensive); and, sadly --- no! tragically --- those neglected orphans, BEE-LUTHER-HATCHEE (Zeitgeist Stage Company) and BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY (Our Place Theatre). The BCA truly has something for everyone --- plays; musicals; performance pieces; festivals; etc. --- pity those who will only choose what they like and ignore the rest; even if you sample but a few months of what the BCA offers year round, you would still be amazed at the vitality, the variety, the inventiveness and the talent that make up Boston’s now teeming theatre scene. The recently demised Market Theater was excellent cake, served sparingly; the BCA is good, honest bread --- and there’s plenty of it. Long may it thrive.
SPIKED EGGNOG, a collection of black humor sketches that turned Christmas inside out, happily bounced back and forth off the walls of the BCA’s intimate Black Box Theatre, and its being up close and personal only added to the fun (a few of YULE EN ROUGE’s numbers would have blended in nicely). Despite its title, EGGNOG’s real ingredients were well-baked ham; bright, sharp ribbon candy; and a few squirts of lemon, and I found much of it quite delectable. Not all of the sketches split my sides, and some simply ran out of gas (a lively spoof of CHARLIE’S ANGELS should have brought the evening to a close instead of four giddy schoolgirls at a slumber party); but with the zanies who wrote and performed SPIKED EGGNOG --- Jan Davidson, John Kuntz, Rick Park and Julie Perkins --- I left the table satisfied. Rick Park was a hoot playing dumpy, frumpy broads (especially in “Merry Dis-Mas” where he and Mr. Kuntz worked the audience as fashion commentators), and Julie Perkins was wonderful as a placid but lethal 1950s housewife in “I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus” (was she sending up the benumbed heroine of the new film FAR FROM HEAVEN?). Jan Davidson was not onstage as much as the others, but in the words of W. S. Gilbert, I found her a Plump and Pleasing Person, and John Kuntz continued to wring laughter from his playing characters who are anything but loveable. Mr. Kuntz’s resemblance to Edwin Booth makes me want to see him take a break from black humor --- as actor and as playwright --- and work some muscles he hasn’t worked before. He stretched a bit this summer as Fluellen in the Commonwealth Shakespeare’s HENRY V but, sigh, seems content to stay stunted; crabbed. Instead of his upcoming Estragon for New Rep, I say, give Tartuffe to Mr. Kuntz, or Mitch in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, or something drenched in romance or sentiment. There comes a time when an actor should --- must --- start giving from the heart; strain as I might, I have yet to hear a beat from Mr. Kuntz’s corner. Why remain a Tin Man? They tend to rust, in the end.