You'd expect something called A Klingon Christmas Carol to be a laugh riot. You'd expect wrong.
Originally created by Commedia Beauregard, this twist on Charles Dickens's enduring tale returns after several years to the appropriately named Phoenix Theater. It's a surprisingly straightforward telling of a classic story as seen through the lens of Star Trek's enduring warrior race.[jump]
The script, by Christopher Kidder-Mostrom and Sasha Warren, does what good science fiction has always done: twist reality to illuminate our world.
This is a traditional tale with a slightly different message. For one, a Vulcan narrator provides the play's only English; the rest of the ridged-forehead cast speaks Klingon. And the parable isn't about a greedy man who refuses to celebrate Christmas. It's about sQuja', who prefers to spend the Long Night counting his money alone, instead of celebrating honor, bravery, and fighting, the Klingons' Holy Trinity.
Our main character is terrible at being a Klingon. Gregory Parks plays him as a sympathetic coward, a man whose fear of pain cuts him off from society. At school, sQuija' avoids the painful initiation rites that will make him a man. His cowardice haunts him.
After he's visited by the spirit of his dead partner, sQuja' is escorted through time by the ghosts of Kahless Past, Present, and Future. He's given one last chance at redemption.
You don't have to know that Kahless is one of the great figures of Klingon mythology to follow the tale, nor do you need to speak the language.
A handy screen at the side of the stage offers translation. The 15-actor company also does an excellent job relaying the story, even though the dialogue sounds like a fusillade of grunts interrupted by the occasional laugh.
Parks gets solid support from the ensemble, from Dylan Olmsted's hearty QachIt to Ethan Jensen's Ghost of Kahless Past. Dawn Krosnowski plays to perfection the cold and logical Vulcan who narrates the tale, while managing to pull a bit of wry humor from the role.
While Star Trek jokes are sprinkled throughout the script, the play presents an absorbing story. It's still a tale of redemption, but with a lot more head-butting than you'll find in the Guthrie's version.
IF YOU GO:
A Klingon Christmas Carol Phoenix Theatre $18 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, plus Monday, December 15; 2:30 p.m. Sundays Through December 21