The Charleston Alley Theater wrapped up their final performance of the year on Sunday with the last production of “Christmas Shorts,” a series of five one-act plays by Matt Hoverman. The play was directed by Amanda and Kent Wolf.
Each act portrays a Christmas struggle, like returning home to your estranged family or writing Christmas cards. Naturally, each of the seemingly mundane scenarios go wrong in hilarious ways. The characters are endearing because their experiences are believable. We all have our own collection of holiday faux pas.
I empathized with the characters in the fourth act, entitled Xmas Cards, where a married couple, Ned and Nelly (played by Sam Kruckeberg and Sarah Rundles), clash over what to write in their annual Christmas greetings. At first, Ned rejects Nelly’s input but later admits that he appreciates her willingness to help after all. The couple’s witty argument is a meaningful analogy of the holidays and relationships. Even when we’re annoyed at the people we love, we still need them.
“Christmas Shorts” is endearing, but it’s also funny. The humor is crass and there is profanity. I found myself laughing throughout the whole show at both subtle and less so moments. The dry and cynical humor in “Christmas Shorts” relied greatly on the performer’s ability to deliver dialogue with the correct facial expressions at the ideal moments. The cast certainly delivered. I loved the interaction between mentor and pupil in act two, The Student. The look on professor Hugh’s face, played by Michael Salem, is perfect when his student Burt, played by Casey Rajkumar, is casually discussing his pornographic, Santa-themed essay with vivid detail. The scene is awkward at first, but develops into understanding and appreciation between both characters. In the end, Burt is satisfied that his mentor appreciates his work and Hugh is validated because he sees that his teaching has made a positive impact on a student.
“Christmas Shorts” had me laughing and actually feeling those holiday feelings. Congratulations to the cast, directors, and crew at the CAT!