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BWW Review: TWIST YOUR DICKENS Lovingly Lampoons All of the Christmas Traditions We Hold So Dear, at Portland Center Stage

If you hold sacred things like A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, well, you're just going to have to get over that. TWIST YOUR DICKENS, by Chicago theatre troupe The Second City and now playing at Portland Center Stage, will take each and every Christmas tradition you have and turn it upside down.

TWIST YOUR DICKENS is a part-scripted, part-improv comedy show based loosely, and I mean very loosely, on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It starts off as in the traditional story, with Scrooge bemoaning Christmas as a waste of a day and Bob Cratchit begging for just one more piece of coal on the fire. But then everything goes off the rails -- Cratchit fantasizes about murdering Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes us on a tour the '80s, and the Christmas classic is invaded by other popular holiday personages, various Dickens characters, and a collection of orphans. There is also a soused singer who chooses not to be limited by the lyrics (I heart you, Ruby Santini), a "deep cuts" version of The Nutcracker, and various opportunities for audience participation. Unlike every other Christmas story ever told, TWIST YOUR DICKENS does not aim to reveal the true meaning of Christmas. But it will make you laugh! A lot!

This same cast has been doing TWIST YOUR DICKENS at Portland Center Stage for a couple of years now. As a result, this show is super-tight. Chantal DeGroat, Sam Dinkowitz, Lauren Modica, and John San Nicolas are regulars on Portland stages. They are all at their best in this show. It could be that they're just all really cut out for comedy, but I think it's because of the time they've had to develop these characters over the years. I saw and loved this show last year, and this year it was even better. And Jaime Moyer, who is a regular at LA improv shows The Second City Hollywood and iO West, is one of the funniest people ever.

In addition to the cast, there is also a local celebrity guest star. On opening night, it was Portland icon the Unipiper. Awesome!

So, obviously, go see the show. It's your last chance -- they aren't doing it again next year.

Happy holidays!

TWIST YOUR DICKENS runs through December 31. Buy tickets at www.pcs.org.

Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel


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