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Patrick McKenna as Jacob Marley (left) and Seán Cullen as Ebeneser Scrooge (right) crank out to laughs in Twist Your Dickens on stage at the Toronto Centre for the Arts until December 30.

A HOLIDAY HOWLER

Let’s face it, Charles Dickens didn’t likely have a line-up of chicks knocking on his door in 1843 when A Christmas Carol was first published.  But man it would be raining babes if the aforementioned British novelist was able to churn out a topsy-turvy comedy like Twist Your Dickens here in the 21st century.

Instead, The Second City and writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort fill in the Yuletide entertainment gap with a holiday howler rife with surprises and seeded with sporatic F bombs.

An accurate depiction of Victorian England this is definitely not.  This Twist follows the Ebenezer Scrooge character map but takes great liberty with sketch detours that have all the traditional Second City decoratives not to mention a touch of Monty Pythonesque to it. There are so many stops along the way that one would think its entertainers would disappointingly get lost in the phooey but it just doesn’t happen in this swift paced farce vehicle.

Improv insanity has never sounded so good in a staging where a flurry of holiday figures—including good ol’ Charlie Brown and the Peanuts squad—find a place on stage.

Seán Cullen is a total hoot as a cranky, penny pinching miser who only finds joy in giving the gift of tears to those around him.  When it comes time to go off script, the performance kingpin makes every night laughably different for those expecting the unexpected.

With jest master Patrick McKenna weighing in with his own unique brand of folly, you can’t help feel you’ve been treated to the best holiday present ever.  His James Stewart impersonation is so genuinely gratifying, Hollywood producers might just be scooping him for a remake of It’s A Wonderful Life.

In true improvisation spirit, not every line goes according to plan nor do highly amused playgoers want it to. Yet the entire cast just gels remarkably well in Twist Your Dickens that you pray to the theatre gods that the production makes a permanent holiday stopover in Toronto.

It’s hands down a comedy lover’s holiday event not to missed.

 

 

TWIST YOUR DICKENS by Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort   December 2-30, 2016 TORONTO CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 5040 Yonge Street, Toronto TICKETS $25.00 – $90.00 www.ticketmaster.ca (855) 985-2872 CAST Sean Cullen, Patrick McKenna, Jason Derosse, Nigel Downer, Sarah Hillier, Karen Parker, Allison Price, Josh Murray, Holly Wyder DIRECTOR Chris Earle SET Jackie Chau LIGHTING Christina Cicko COSTUMES Melanie McNeill SOUND DESIGN Casi Pacilio PROPS Karen Elizabeth STAGE MANAGER Andrew Dollar

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