A review of the play in the epistolary style of Actors Rep's seasonal offering, “Dear Santa”.
I know I should be looking forward to the weeks ahead, the annual hunt for the funny pair of boxer shorts I always give my husband and the festive but not too revealing dress to wear for the office party, going to wolf down a sausage and sauerkraut at the Christmas market, but to be perfectly honest with you, I would rather stay in, binge watch Stranger Things and eat Dr Oetker pizzas till the reindeers come home.
I know you must be terribly busy right now, but could you give me an early present to get me through? Something that will lift my spirits? Please don't suggest Valium or the complete series of Mr Bean. Been there, tried that.
With love and in desperation,
PS Is there really a Santa Claus?
Yes, there is a Santa Claus. And yes, my dear, I have just the remedy. I’d like you to head to a cosy little café and watch “Dear Santa”. It’s a two-hander play about a couple wrestling with just the same sort of holiday angst. Well, the husband is wrestling. The wife is sort of in his corner. She lifts his spirits and she’ll lift yours, but he’s fun to sympathise with and his reminiscences will make you think as well as smile. At the very least, your own family will look good by comparison. But that’s not why I want you to go. This play is Dickens meets Neil Simon--it’ll put the spice back in your egg nog and the sprinkles on your sugar cookies.
I have a knack for knowing what people would like, and I know you’ll enjoy this little play, starring Erik Abbott as the grumpy hubby forced to write to me against his will and Christine Probst as his optimistic wife, who is actually excited about the idea of writing to me as a kind of couple's therapy.
He’s a doubting Thomas--he’s been on my naughty list--but he ends up opening up to me like he’s talking to his closest confident. Abbott works himself up into a tangle of Christmas tree lights torment, then softens like the first downy snow fall--his performance is as strong as his character tries to be. She’s always been on my nice list. Christine Probst is perfect as the wife who sees the good in things and is as bubbly as crémant and yet as down to earth a corny Christmas sweater. We believe in her; and she's never stopped believing in me...or in her husband. And like the elves in my workshop, this couple, despite their differences, works together well.
Director Peter Zazzali flew here from NYC to polish this little gem. His expert eye and ear ensured the performances undulated with changing pace and temperament. It’s not a given that a play where the cast sits at a table the whole time is going to continually hold attention, but it does. Zazzali brought out the best of the actors and of this play, just as I think seeing it will help bring out the best in you, Virginia.
I can't encourage you enough, Virginia, to take my advice and go see “Dear Santa”. Tickets are only €10, so it won’t even take a bit out of your boxer short budget. And there’s more good news--this play is transportable. “Dear Santa” will be performed at several corporate parties and it may still be available for your private event too.
“Dear Santa” by Actors Rep is performed on Friday 8 December and Thursday 21 December at 7:30 and 9 p.m. on both evenings. Café Rocas, ‘Place des Bains’, 33 rue des Capucins, Luxembourg-Centre. To book tickets, email [email protected] or call +352 35 63 39.