Overbearing relatives, forced merriness, the same damn songs playing over and over and then over again—Christmas can be a real pain in the toches. It’s a lot more bearable if you have a partner to rely on. Someone who will gladly go get you another glass of something strong when your outspoken conservative uncle is chewing your ear off in the corner, but who also recognizes when one more potable might lead to a punch-up. Someone who hates “Christmas Shoes” even more than you do. You know, like a true love or something.
Mary (the engaging Maggie Lakis) needs all the help she can get this holiday season. She doesn’t particularly like Christmas (prefers Thanksgiving, actually), and to make matters worse, she drops her husband-to-be after seeing him making merry with another woman on live TV. What follows is a funny story of her next twelve dates, and it’s not spoiling anything to note that not all of these guys are keepers.
Depicting the next year of her life, Lakis plays (almost) all the characters in this 90 minute show, without a single break (and only one mugful of water!). Her Mary has just the right amount of spunk—circumstances often have her on the edge of crumbling, but we can tell she’ll pull through. The multiple female characters are all well-differentiated, but not so with the males, who often aren’t much more than a deep voice and a slight slouch. Fortunately, the guys who really matter to the plot are brought to life nice and distinctly.
Tony Braithwaite’s sure-footed direction steers clear of insipid sentimentality on the one side and glib Sex-and-the-City snark on the other. And for a show that is so deeply rooted in anger and frustration and disappointment, Ginna Hoben’s THE TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS is remarkably sweet and free of bitterness. Do be aware, though, that this show does contain a fair amount of salty language, so make sure to leave the little ones at home. [Act II Playhouse] December 10-29, 2013, act2.org.