Sunday, December 16, 2018

Wetumpka Depot: "A Tuna Christmas"

Bookending their 2018 Season that started with Greater Tuna, the Wetumpka Depot is ending it with A Tuna Christmas with the same director and actors. Penned by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard, audiences are taken to the tiny town of Tuna, TX (population 24), and introduced to most if not all of its eccentric citizens, all of whom are played by two actors: David and Brooke Brown. Under Kristy Meanor's direction, they are able to display their ample talents.

It most certainly helps to have some exposure to the first play of a series, as character backgrounds and events of Greater Tuna are given short attention if any at all, and some of the character traits of these social misfits have been softened without explanation.

Arles and Thurston, the hosts at "Radio O.K.A.Y.", start things off by telling that the annual Christmas yard display contest winner will be announced shortly, and the fierce competition is threatened by a mysterious phantom; that and the annual community theatre performance of A Christmas Carol is also under threat of having the power turned off for non-payment of bills. -- How these two things impact the town is the play's central concern.

So, we see the townsfolk in all their bizarre behavior trying to out-do one another. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are to be commended for creating clever and specific characters through the manipulation of a series of quick costume changes, along with wigs, false teeth, prosthetics, props, vocal and physical dexterity that clearly distinguish each one. Hats off too to the team of backstage "dressers" who make the smooth transitions happen, and to a sweet dachshund disguised as an iguana who almost steals the show.

This is a gentler version of the town of Tuna, perhaps because it is a Christmas show that purports to having a kinder message, delivered sincerely by Petey Fisk [Mr. Brown] in his version of the first Christmas story, but the play overall has lost a lot of its satiric bite. Though we are entertained by these rogues and their familiar homespun philosophies, it takes over two hours to get to the point, and some scenes are belabored beyond their sell by date.