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BWW Review: CHRISTMASTOWN: A HOLIDAY NOIR at Seattle Public Theater

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Your favorite holiday noir is back.

BWW Review: CHRISTMASTOWN: A HOLIDAY NOIR at Seattle Public Theater
Pilar O'Connell and Michael Wu in
Christmastown at Seattle Public Theater.
Photo credit: David Hogan

With the return of theater, we now see the return of the holiday favorites. Seattle Public Theater has two such offerings, both a departure from the usual holiday fare. We'll get to the second one, "Die Hard", when it returns next week. But for now, we focus on the gem that is Wayne Rawley's "Christmastown: A Holiday Noir". With three new cast members, the show is just as fun and thrilling as before.

It's Christmastime in Christmastown, but then it always is. And while the people are busy preparing for the arrival of the jolly man in red, detective Nick Holiday (Michael Wu) has stumbled on a mystery that may shake Christmastown down to its tinsel. It all starts when the voluptuous vixen Holly Wonderland (Pilar O'Connell) struts into his office with a job for the gumshoe. She's got some incriminating photos of Big Red, and she wants to confirm if they're real or not. But as Nick goes digging, he uncovers a conspiracy leading all the way to the top of the Christmas tree.

Rawley is no stranger to superb storytelling and dialog as is evidenced in his other works especially the local favorite, "Live! From the Last Night of My Life". And that shows in spades (pun intended) in "Christmastown" as Rawley drops every holiday seasonal pun that he can find mixed with that singular noir tone. From the reporter named "Virginia" looking for the truth (can you see that one coming?) to the eager cabbie with only one working red brake light named Rudy. And both those punny characters are played by the same person (Angela DiMarco). In fact, the entirety of Christmastown is played by only four fantastic actors (Pilar O'Connell, Michael Wu, Angela DiMarco, and Jasmine Joshua) with only Wu taking on the solitary role of Nick. The rest swap costumes and personas at breakneck speed appearing one minute as a kindly yet dangerous Mrs. Claus and the next as the malevolent fat cat, E.B. Wonderland to hilarious effect.

BWW Review: CHRISTMASTOWN: A HOLIDAY NOIR at Seattle Public Theater
Jasmine Joshua in Christmastown
at Seattle Public Theater.
Photo credit: David Hogan

It's hard to pick out my favorites but I'll try. O'Connell slinks around the stage as the delectable vamp and killer chanteuse, Holly, but that's only rivaled by their hilarious turn with DiMarco as the two dimwitted thugs for the Claus', Jingle and Jangle. And DiMarco's dual personalities of Officers Naughty and Nice are comedy gold. Joshua manages their multiples with ease and their drunken Santa ramblings alone are worth the price of admission. And Wu embodies the slick private dick perfectly as he uncovers the goings on that are not so merry and bright. And special kudos to the stagehands who swoop in and out transforming the world with tons of Christmas magic, and often times in character.

This little 80-minute romp may not be your typical Christmas tale but makes for an excellent evening out, away from the worries of the season. Especially these days. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give Seattle Public Theater's "Christmastown: A Holiday Noir" a jolly holiday of a YAY. And be sure not to cross Mrs. C or you might end up on her naughty list.

"Christmastown: A Holiday Noir" performs at Seattle Public Theater through December 24th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.seattlepublictheater.org.


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