Okay, so you’re about to fly to Colorado to meet your family in a rented cabin for an inferred dysfunctional Christmas and you have some things to tell them…about your life…personal things. Your mother is uber sacred when it comes to the holiday, your three brothers are just unsophisticated, alcoholic boobs (really, three very unwise men) and you, their only sister, are expecting a child—your first–only you did nothing to actually conceive it. (A more appropriate time than ever to disclose your situation—no?)
Just what the hell’s going on here?
Marnie Olson explores just this in her newly penned play Merry F***in’ Christmas, Ya’ll. Set entirely in a rented cabin in Colorado, a gregariously alcoholic Texas family is prompted to get on each other’s nerves and then some as their drinking habits, behavior and lifestyles are called into question by their kin and ultimately themselves. Directed by Kerr Lordygan the play begins as the lights dim with his recorded instructions giving us all the expected pre-show admonishments peppered by titularly inspired “f**ks” and “f***in’”s over an exceedingly tinny speaker system. Sounding much like a small, bug-voiced, hillbillyish God, he proclaims: “If you’re gonna suck on something, please open it now, or just grab the person next to you. …Check postcards in the lobby or our website at EclecticCompanyTheatre.org to find out what else we got going on here (Can somebody please f***in’ let us know too?)…and turn off yer f***in’ cell phone so it doesn’t interfere with our f***in’ sound system!”
A Special Christmas Greeting from the Playwright
“I took a trip to Colorado to meet my family for the Christmas holiday in 2002. I was never the same after that experience.
In a remote cabin near Steamboat Springs, seventeen of us endured an experience that scarred me enough that one day, I sat down to write a play about it…”
The play commences with the tentative entrance of Mia portrayed earnestly by playwright Marnie Olson and her partner Alana played steadfastly by producer Erin Treanor. “I guess we’re the first ones here,” notes Mia nervously. Alana sympathetically admits the visit won’t be easy but more triumphantly focuses on the challenge at hand rather than the fear of all that could go wrong.
Enter brother number 1; Gunnar (nicknamed “Goldfinger”-in some sort of sexual sense—according to him anyway) played by smarmily by Daniel Pittack. Though he already seems aware of Mia’s secret, he flirts shamelessly with Alana no less as the first thing he utters is “Hey Foxy, Feliz Navidad.”
Just as Mia’s mother Lucie, played by a heartfelt and sympathetic Dianne Travis, arrives and comments, for what must be the thousandth time, on her daughter’s perpetual singularity, “You’re gonna become a crazy ol’ cat lady if you’re not careful,” Gunnar just can’t help but punctuate said remark by interjecting, “Well she does like Pussy.” All is lost on Mother Lucie.
Liam, brother number 2, portrayed quite randily, by Mike Goulis arrives with his wife and former Rodeo Queen Rhiannon played comedically enthusiastically by Ivy Jones. They enter kissing like teenagers on the brink of virginal demise as Rhiannon coos “Santa Baby coming down my chimney tonight,” the irony lying primarily in the difference in their ages and the fact that Rhiannon could have probably been his literal Santa and then some when he was a wee tot in the guise of his grandmother or at the very least, his mother.
Enter brother number 3 (yes there are more) Curtis played somewhat spoiled brattishly, but in a good way, by Julian Vlcan. He three knows Mia is gay which leads to some tension and slurs amongst the brothers as they attempt to hide this fact yet joke about it in front of Mother Lucie.
Just as Liam slings the “G” word Curtis’ way Lucie can only intercede to stop the ‘nonsense’. “Don’t call anybody gay. It’s impolite. Just because your brother doesn’t have a girlfriend right now (doesn’t mean he’s gay)”. This conversation swiftly and eventually turns to vaginas and mother Lucie has an almost final say in halting and squelching this banter as well.
Lucie-Please stop talkin’ ‘bout (whispering) vaginas. It’s almost Jesus’ birthday!
Curtis-Even Jesus came out of a vagina!
The family argues. They drink; the brothers in particular but Mia also indulges, much to the chagrin of Alana. “You promised you wouldn’t drink!” They come up with all sorts of dumb-bumpkiny things to do such as going down to the local watering hole, “The Scratching Post” and pick up drunk chicks along with picking locks of snowmobiles to which they are not entitled access. Mother Lucie, the abstinent centerpiece of the clan wants a simple, loving, fun-filled Christmas, oh, and even more pressingly, to be a “granny”. But Gunnar is a commitment phobe, Liam is married to a “39 year-old” woman who has long surpassed menopause and Curtis is in love with a stripper.
What to do…what to do? Mia must surely disclose her immaculate conception at the hands of Alana, a male friend and a fertility doctor. Mustn’t she?
There is an accident. It is discovered that one of the brothers brought a suitcase full of liquor on the airplane and another brought and most recently indulged in cocaine. All hell breaks loose as Lucie bellows to all standing in the living room, “Fix the snowmobile, fix the blood on the wall, fix the wall and fix yourselves!!!” To the perpetually sullen Mia she eventually exclaims, “Ever since you were a little girl I have been telling you the same thing; the world is not out to get you—cheer the fuck up!”
The play ultimately comes to a most touching and poignant conclusion but not before more rows are hoed and foundations torn asunder then reconstructed.
Merry F***in’ Christmas Y’all runs until Sunday January 5th Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7 pm at the Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. (between Chandler and Magnolia) Valley Village, CA 91607 (right across from Shakey’s!) Reservations please call (818) 508-3003. For online ticketing and more information about The Eclectic Company Theatre, please visit www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org.