THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

NO CAPTION

Review: A Very Nouveau Holiday | Nouveau 47 Theatre | Margo Jones Theatre in the Magnolia Lounge


Wreathing Havoc

Nouveau 47 Theatre brings back the 10-minute play festival A Very Nouveau Holiday, and it merits more than a few ho-ho-ho's.



published Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dallas — Last year Nouveau 47 Theatre revived what was once a local holiday theater tradition—a festival of 10-minute plays, originally conceived by the much-missed Ground Zero Theatre Company—and, well, it was rough going. It’s a good thing they've hung their stockings with more care this year.

The second A Very Nouveau Holiday is a lords-a-leaping improvement over the first, with 11 (10 on some nights) short plays that, while varying in quality, handily tip the scale to the “terrifically entertaining” side. Happening at the Margo Jones Theater, it’s a great case for a fun, irreverent reprieve from Ghosts of Christmas Tenses, elves and the Great Polar Red One.

Not to say that those characters don’t make an appearance in AVNH. This is the perfect opportunity to toy with Christmas traditions, after all.

I have to start by getting Playing Santa out of the way. It’s written by Kris Noteboom and performed by him and Lance Lusk, only on the bill on Thursdays and Saturdays. If those names sound familiar it’s because they’re both critics for TheaterJones, and yes, that means I am their editor.

Photo: Danielle Vance
Actors Maya Pearson, DeWayne Blundell and Ana Gonzalez in A Very Nouveau Holiday

Awkward.

They are in Santa suits, awaiting a mall Santa audition. Noteboom’s in-the-moment character doesn’t understand why Lusk’s Santa is depressed and angry about an audition he considers beneath him. He has performed in Shakespeare plays, after all. It's a funny commentary on the tough business of being an actor, and that's something critics should understand well.

The rest of the plays are seen at every performance and feature the AVNH ensemble of DeWayne Blundell, Ginger Goldman, Ana Gonzalez, Shane Hamlin, Johanna Nchekwube, Maxim Overton and Maya Pearson. The directors are Alex Bigus, Rebecca McDonald, Kelsey Johnson and Erin Singleton.

Justin Locklear’s I Spend Christmas Alone (directed by McDonald) is the heaviest, dealing with an alcoholic father (Shane Hamlin; character names are not listed in the "Sleighbill") and the people who love him. Playing drunk is never easy, and Hamlin’s is a messy drunk; it’s hard to tell if it was written that way.

Bill Otstott’s The Secret Lives of Elves (director Bigus) puts contemporary workplace problems in Santa’s workshop, where sexual harassment, union disputes and sensitivity training are the normal fabric of the time clock-punching life. It’s the slightest work here, and that’s OK.

Kelsey Johnson’s Wall of Color (Johnson also directs) is about two girlfriends (played by Goldman and Nehekwube) about to visit Nehekwube’s character’s parents at Christmastime. It’s a sweet little script, and Goldman, who is consistently the best performer in this festival, gives her finest turn here. It’s too bad that Nchekwube seems tentative about playing a lesbian.

Another show with a gay theme is David Bernard Houck’s Christmas Time is Queer Again (directed by Bigus) in which Blundell and Overton play lovers who have invited Blundell’s character’s parents over for Christmas. The parents disowned their son when he came out, and so this reunion is awkward—and more so than a typical holiday family gathering. There are touching moments and a funny twist when the mom (Goldman) makes her own announcement.

Kevin Fuld’s Christmas Drinks (directed by Johnson) and Matthew James Edwards’s CODENAME: Ghost Protocol (directed by Singleton) use supernatural/fictional characters to comment on the human condition. The former has some thought-provoking dialogue, and the latter is an intriguing take on A Christmas Carol. Both feature strong performances. Reasoning for the Seasoning, written by someone named Virgil (yeah, not that one) is also in this vein, but it’s clunkier.

The three best plays come from more established local writers.

Ben Schroth’s Before I Sleep (directed by McDonald) is a memory play about a daughter (Pearson) remembering special moments with her mother (Goldman). It’s uncharacteristically sentimental for Schroth, but completely welcome given the holiday theme. He has a talent for vivid dialogue.

Photo: Robert Hart
Kris Noteboom and Lance Lusk in Playing Santa

Brad McEntire’s Corner Office Sky (directed by McDonald) happens at an office Christmas party in a high-rise. Blundell plays an employee who thinks he might actually score with Gonzalez’s character. It’s clear early on that she doesn’t work for the same, um, company, but it’s fun watching him work up the courage to go for it. The ending is well done by both actors.

Best of show is Jim Kuenzer’s Gift of the Hipster Magi (directed by Bigus), which is exactly what it sounds like: O. Henry’s short story with a postmodern, hipster twist. Blundell and Gonzalez play the lovers of the story who want to get each other a gift (I won’t spoil it, but they are tres hipster), but have to sacrifice something in order to afford the gift. It’s purposefully performed in a presentational style, which makes the whole thing even funnier. O. Henry’s story is one of literature’s best examples of true irony, and that clever devil Kuenzer makes his smartest dig at hipster culture by turning it into something that’s done merely for the sake of being ironic. Like someone who prefers music by The Smiths and Pixies thinking their fondness for, say, a Celine Dion song, is an “ironic like.” (Hey, maybe there should be a Facebook button for that.)

To quote from one of pop culture’s biggest misuses of the concept of irony—that Alanis Morrissette song—“who would’ve thought…it figures.” Whatever.

Overall, A Very Nouveau Holiday is one of the better options for holiday theatergoing—and that’s said without a hint of irony. Thanks For Reading





Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Wreathing Havoc
Nouveau 47 Theatre brings back the 10-minute play festival A Very Nouveau Holiday, and it merits more than a few ho-ho-ho's.
by Mark Lowry

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center Firehouse Theatre Silent Sky Mistletoe Magic TCC Daylight Cara Mia Chamberlain Hip Hop Nutcracker Gloria La Fete Scrooge Irving Arts Center Dallas Opera Bocelli American Airlines center
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit