In my review of Portland Center Stage's "Twist Your Dickens" I wrote that it was: "both a good way to get a dose of holiday-mirth and get your humbugs out in a safe place before the big day." Artist's Rep's holiday offering on the other hand is not. Think of it this way: "Twist Your Dickens" is a good-natured nose-thumbing to the holidays, "Xmas Unplugged" is a full-on Middle Finger. Only those who view their place on The Naughty List as a point of pride should attend. I'm sure there is no shortage of people who fit that description, and the central event in "The Reason for the Season" will probably provide catharsis for some, but don't say I didn't warn you.
The second of the two One-Acts is "The Night Before Christmas", two British thieves and a prostitute have captured someone who claims to be an elf, but may just be a festively dressed drug-using burglar. The play ends on a note just a shade happier than the other, and as cynical as I am, I think I preferred it to the other play for that reason. In fact, its slightly happier resolution even compensated for thick accents that were sometimes difficult to understand. Let me be clear, both were enjoyable in their own ways, they both had moments of laughter, but in the context of the holidays, I guess I appreciate a happier ending, even if the moral is that we should learn to embrace the holidays as an invitation to debauchery. Huh, perhaps this is just enough to ensure that I don't get coal this year.... Fingers crossed!