Let’s Get Crazy! Our PSYCHO Scorecard to This Holiday Season’s Productions

Hal Landon Jr. returns to South Coast Rep for A Christmas Carol. Photo by Jim Cox/SCR

Auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, rapid dissociative speech patterns—all manifestations of psychosis. And while that’s nothing to laugh at, isn’t it quaint that everyone’s favorite red-suited fat fuck, Santa Claus, exhibits all of them?

To wit: Have you ever heard a reindeer talk or seriously contemplate squeezing your morbidly obese ass down a chimney? Do you think anyone would have the power—or even desire it—to determine which kids have been naughty and which have been nice? Not only are those hallucinations and delusions, but the last one is creepy as hell. And while he may not sound like a meth freak reciting the dictionary backward, what the hell is up with the ho, ho, ho-ing?

So, Santa’s a psycho. And for the next month, he’s everyone’s favorite psycho. And that includes at our local stages, most of which, if not summoning his presence by name or shape, will devote considerable energy the rest of the year to holiday-themed plays. And though there are other contenders for the main seat at the holiday table—the Baby Jesus, the Winter Solstice, the metaphor of a shard of light flickering in a sea of darkness—let’s get real: They all get second billing to the Patron Saint of Consumerism. Because the Illuminati says so.

So, what better way to rate current and upcoming holiday plays than OC Weekly’s soon-to-fade-into-obscurity PSYCHO Scale? Basically, it’s a 1-to-100 measure of how wacked-out these plays would seem if you saw them in whatever passes for your version of real life. Note: They’re either very mild or way spun. . . .

A Charlie Brown Christmas. The Chance isn’t staging its irreverent romp about Santa’s randy reindeers in favor of a more family-themed staging of a familiar story. But since it doesn’t feature a Mensa-level Beagle imagining he’s the Red Baron, it rates low. PSYCHO Score: 10. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (888) 455-4212; www.chancetheater.com. Dec. 7-23.

A Christmas Carol. The legendary Hal Landon returns to South Coast Repertory for the 39th year in Jerry Patch’s adaptation of Charles Dicken’s classic tale, while Long Beach’s version is a stripped-down version (an ensemble of eight rather than SCR’s 35) returning for its seventh season. And when we’re talking hallucinating holiday protagonists, Scrooge has to be near the top of any list. PSYCHO Score: 90. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555; www.scr.org. Through Dec. 24; Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org. Dec. 8-23.

A Very Merry Unscripted Christmas. Returning for its third year, this show is created anew every night. Using audience suggestions, the cast improvises a full-length play in the vein of a Hallmark Channel holiday special. PSYCHO Score: 5. Modjeska Playhouse, 21084 Bake Pkwy., Ste. 104, Lake Forest, (949) 445-3674; www.mphstage.org. Through Dec. 22.

Blanca Nieves’ Christmas. Miguel Cardenas directs this Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble production of Yolanda Mendiveles’ play about a recently widowed mother of six facing tough times during the holidays in East Los Angeles, circa 1955. PSYCHO Score: 1. Grand Central Art Center, 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana; www.breathoffire.org. Dec. 9.

The Holiday Gem. One More Productions wheels out its “fun for the whole family” musical revue, complete with singing, dancing and live musicians. PSYCHO score: 3. Gem Theater, 12852 Main St., Garden Grove; www.onemoreproductions.com. Through Dec. 16.

It’s a Wonderful Life. This is STAGEStheatre’s constant holiday companion, and if you don’t know the classic film this live radio play version is documenting, you need to watch more TV. Next to Scrooge, who is more bonkers than George Bailey? PSYCHO Score: 99. STAGEStheatre, 400 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-4484; www.stagesoc.org. Through Dec. 22.

Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical. Part of the ridiculously popular Nunsense franchise, this one features wise-cracking nuns getting ready to tape a cable-access Christmas show from their basement convent. PSYCHO Score: 25, mainly because there’s an Ernest Borgnine Theatre in Long Beach?! Ernest Borgnine Theatre, 855 Elm Ave., Long Beach, (562) 436-3983; www.ernestborgninetheatre.org. Dec. 14-23.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The Maverick’s holiday tradition is completely sold out this year. And that in and of itself is just nuts. But combine Santa, Martians and a campy mock-up of a cult classic film, and this show tops the scale. PSYCHO Score: 100. Maverick Theater, 110 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-7070; www.mavericktheater.com. Through Dec. 23.

When Christmas Comes to Town. Eight singers display their vocal prowess on a slew of Christmas musical standards. PSYCHO Score: 1. Mysterium Theater, 311 S. Euclid St., La Habra, (562) 697-3311; mysteriumtheater.com. Dec. 13-16.

An A Dolt’s Only Xma$ Pageant. It’s last on this list because it deserves to be. Gratuitous nudity, F-bombs, irreverence, blasphemy, music and poetry, Ted Kennedy, mongoose-baiting—you name it, and this piece of crap (tries) to deliver. (Full disclosure: Your faithful typist sweeps the theater before the show.) For more info, ask those smoke-people who just slipped into your house through the air conditioning ducts. PSYCHO Score: 1,001. STAGEStheatre; www.stagesoc.org. Dec. 20.

Joel Beers has written about theater and other stuff for this infernal rag since its very first issue in, when was that again???

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