Playwright Christopher Durang has taken on Catholic dogma, marriage and parenting in his acidic comedies, and this fall he's poking A Christmas Carol in the eye at City Theatre in Pittsburgh.
The world premiere of Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge is billed as "an outrageous new holiday comedy" directed by City Theatre artistic director Tracy Brigden. The commission runs on City Theatre's 272-seat mainstage Nov. 7-Dec. 8.
According to production notes, "In Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge, we find out whether Ebeneezer Scrooge has Tourette's Syndrome, or just a really bad attitude. When we meet Scrooge, he's as 'unpleasant as fermenting Rice-a-Roni.' But soon an omniscient (though somewhat inept) Ghost begins a journey to teach him the True Meaning of Christmas. Since she's lost her astral direction, however, things start to go terribly awry."
Dickens characters from the much-adapted short story, "A Christmas Carol, are here: Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley, the Fezziwigs and Tiny Tim. But so are Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, and cameos by the Beadle and his wife (from "Oliver Twist"), Little Nell ("The Old Curiosity Shop"), George Bailey and Clarence ("It's a Wonderful Life"), Tess and Monica ("Touched By an Angel"), and others.
"Then there's Gladys Cratchit," according to the announcement. "At the end of her rope about her 20 children who sleep in a pile in the root cellar, she decides to have a few Tequila Sunrises then jump off London Bridge. When she meets Scrooge, however, and discovers they have much in common (both find children to be sticky and hateful), a whole new chapter unfolds." Jeff Cowie is set designer. The cast will be announced.
Durang's absurdly comic plays have criticized social conventions, hypocrisy, corrupt beliefs and base appetites over the past 25 years. His works include Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, Baby With the Bathwater, The Marriage of Bette and Boo and the recent Betty's Summer Vacation.
A Christmas Carol is a perennial favorite in American regional theatres; seasonally, it is one of the most frequent titles across the country. As counter programming to the sweet Victorian morality tale, some theatres have begun staging such works as The Santaland Diaries (David Sedaris' wicked account of playing an elf at Macy's) or Inspecting Carol, a comic tale of a regional theatre troupe staging A Christmas Carol in expectation of an NEA inspector who may or may not approve funding for their company.
Tickets are $25-$35. City Theatre is at 1300 Bingham and 13th Street, South Side. For tickets, call the box office at (412) 431-CITY or visit citytheatrecompany.org.
— By Kenneth Jones