William Shakespeare. Anton Chekhov. Oscar Wilde. Tyler Perry. These giants of theatre provide the shoulders for contemporary playwrights throughout the greater Isla Vista area to stand on. Critic Trevor Weighed is here to judge everything he sees against their work.
Theatre aficionados looking to keep their minds engaged this holiday season would do well to steer clear of the abysmal Santa’s Workshop dampening the holiday cheer of IV Elementary this season. I went in willing to forgive last spring’s deplorable third-grade production of Steel Magnolias but I may very well never return to the pre-pubescent proscenium after this poor performance.
To call it “a Christmas show” would be too generous. Program coordinators and community theater harpies Robyn Call and Linda Albaeck put on a show that, if I’m trying to be polite, I can say reminded me of the summer my camp counselor tarted up all the hairless little brats and shoved them into a slipshod two-day run of The Once and Future Martin Luther King, a story of a racially torn England and the one reverend who could lead them to glory before being assassinated in Camelot, Alabama. Head Counselor Laura called my performance as the Duke of Mobile “riveting”. And I was.
But I’m not trying to be polite. The acting in this production is stultifying. Perhaps the obesity problem that plagues our nation’s children stems from their tendency to speak to our hearts and souls with as much ham on fist as possible. Second grader Skyler Jacobson’s performance as Mrs. Claus utterly failed to express the domestic melancholy and furtive feminism of the character, who was best played by Kirsten Gale in last year’s excellent Christmas pageant. The costumes look as though they were woven from moth bitten drapes and the hair of banshees. The set pieces carry the fetid stench of dollar store paint, and make the North Pole appear to be covered in bones. A note to the designer: snow is white, not ivory. Put in a little effort next time. But easily the most egregious aspect of the pageant came during first grader Max Glover’s soliloquy on the meaning of Christmas. The moment was so obviously derived from the classic “Charlie Brown Christmas” special that I half expected him to pull out a blanket and begin sucking on his thumb when he finished. This production is an unquestionable waste of time.
That being said, Melinda French’s lighting was above par.