If you’re looking for a feel-good, funny, contemporary holiday evening, check out It’s a Wonderful Christmas-ish Holiday Miracle at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Goldcorp Stage.
‘Christmas-ish’ is a thoroughly modern holiday tale, perhaps a bit too modern for some demographics who aren’t up on their tech or video game play. The play begins with Esther, breaking the 4th wall to catch the audience up to her story, a year after her passing. Played with verve by Nicola Lipman, Esther has the 1970 hippy-esque spirit of a senior Rhoda Morgenstern. Sent ‘back’ by her ‘angel’ Salena, to complete unfinished business with her granddaughter Chloe (Matreya Scarrwener) and daughter Miriam (Jennifer Lines), before she can cross-over, the border, to the other side. Esther the ghost bridges the generations as she tries to help her dysfunctional family right their boat before it descends into a whirlpool of emotions it can’t escape. While Salena and the women in the family command the show, Jovanni Sy as Steven (husband of Miriam), and Glen Gordon (as son Simon) round out the family and supporting cast.
There’s so much packed into Marcus Youssef’s topical script, everyone should find something relatable. Inter-generational family dynamics, Alzheimer’s, death, teenage angst, smartphones, video games, religions, divorce, and so much more. The trouble with so much happening, is if you miss the social or pop-culture reference, you may spend too much time trying to overthink what it was about, causing you to miss the next moment. Some of the laugh-out-loud moments may also cause one to miss the next. Connecting the scenes, adding another quirk while helping the Holiday spirit grow, is the soundtrack of Sufjan Stevens, performed live by the cast with the same lo-fi style as the artist.
It’s a Wonderful Christmas-ish Holiday Miracle may move at a rapid pace, including the on-the-fly set changes of Lauchlin Johnston’s abstact mountain of gift boxes, but Chelsea Haberlin’s direction keeps the heart and message of the play the lasting memory that resonates from all that’s going on onstage.
The Arts Club Theatre Company’s It’s a Wonderful Christmas-ish Holiday Miracle, plays at Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, 162 W. 1st Ave, until December 22, 2019. Find showtimes and tickets at artsclub.com.
1 thought on “It’s a Wonderful Christmas-ish Holiday Miracle at Arts Club”
I have mixed feelings about this play. There are moments of brilliance in the acting, the writing and the production. It could have been great. It is creative, or even experimental and it tackles very tough subjects.
But a few aspects ruined for us. One was the terrible acting and dialogue of the “Angle”. It was slapstick high school style (melodramatic) acting and did not fit with the rest of the play. Her character was also racist and anti-white which made it uncomfortable for us as a mix race couple. It’s the kind of racism you are meant to applaud and condone as well – which is too bad, we see too much of that these days. Also bit dissatisfied with the lack of development of the male characters, even when the they appeared to be mistreated. I think the focus on the three women was superb and needed to be front and centre but something felt off about the flatness of the husband.
That said, the overall play has brilliance but going forward we likely won’t support places that continue to push racist messages. We love and push for true equality. We don’t need to cut one side down to lift the other.