The thing about Christmas is, you're not going to love everything you get, especially when you're a kid. Inside your stocking, there are always the "What was Mom thinking?" objects d'whatever. But you're also bound to get some good stuff. And in keeping with the Christmas spirit, it is the thought—all right, and the bulk—that counts.
Which brings us to the decidedly adult Naked Holidays, the annual yuletide foolishness at Sacred Fools. This year's irreverent lineup of short plays is an overflowing and very mixed bag. But it's offered with just the right attitude by old and new company members variously serving as actors, writers, and directors, taking their talents in new directions. Which means it's all over the map; but, most likely, you'll be glad you're along for the ride.
Where else can you see the fabulous Shirley Anderson as the Pope? In one of the evening's most strangely wonderful works—Padraic Duffy's The Test, directed by Aaron Francis—Anderson teams onstage with Paul Plunkett and Matthew Yang King, who is absolutely captivating as a young boy with a message from god. And King is equally terrific with Stephanie Dees in Bob DeRosa's familiar The Party Score, a nakedly honest encounter at the office Christmas, smoothly directed by Scott Rabinowitz. Earlier, the playwright's charming It's Better to Give provides a nice turn for first-time director Michael Lanahan, as well as for actors Lisa Anne
Nicolai and Frank Stasio. Dees also lends her attractive assets to Ruth Silveira's Nothing to
Wear, a clever sketch about conventions and pretensions, co-starring an animated Mikhail Blokh, which comes alive in the second act, thanks in part to director Jessie Marion. But it's in Marty Barrett's horribly funny Snowball's Christmas Miracle that Dees really goes for broke. Under Kiff Scholl's sure-handed direction, Barrett's nasty dive into dysfunction is a guilty pleasure. Change a couple of letters and "Santa" becomes "Satan." Coincidence? I think not. Jeremy Stevens and David LM Mcintyre have smarmy fun here, as well. These two actors keep up the pace (with help from Plunkett) in Steve Tanner's Billy
Bonnet (or, a Gift for the Well-Hanged Sailor). The high-seas adventure, smartly directed by Philip Wofford, is a shamelessly comic treasure. Eric T. Werner does a fine job of directing Johnny Klein's provocative Ruses, a skewering of social mores at the holiday dinner table. Anderson's Oh Bob, directed by Mark McClain Wilson, leaves no maternal gesture un-martyred. These two do a lot to make up for the, shall we say, less desirable holiday treats.