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Theater Review - Mary Christmas

Theater OUTlanta's A Queer Carol puts the dick back in the Dickens classic, rethinking Ebenezer Scrooge and company as a modern gay fable. Playwright Joe Godfrey originally set the story in New York, but allows troupes to add local touches, and director Jeffery Brown takes full advantage. Thus we meet the bow-tied "Ben" Scrooge (Charles Green), who runs an interior design firm from an old Midtown house. He's less Alistair Sims and more a bitter old fruitcake, a Julia Sugarbaker meets Steve Forbes.

Bob Cratchit (David D. Mitchell), Scrooge's assistant, lives with his boyfriend, Tiny Tim, in East Atlanta and bemoans his company's lack of health insurance.

As in the original text, the show drags until the entrance of Scrooge's deceased business- and life-partner "Jake" Marley (Mark King), whose ghost breathes the first life into an otherwise dead script. Marley trots out in a scandalous bondage ensemble, shirtless with leather shackles and chaps. King imbues Marley with a hilarious, bitchy sarcasm, telling Scrooge, "Expect the first spirit at, oh, 1-ish."

A parade of predictable stock queer characters follows. The Ghost of Christmas Past appears as Marilyn Monroe (Andrea Hutcheson), whose dialogue is peppered with pat film references. More entertaining is the drag queen Christmas Present (George Deavors), whose green tinsel explosion of a costume alone is worth sitting through the second act.

The play takes its most radical departure from the original with the love affair between Marley and young Scrooge (Larry Davis, who also plays Tim). At Fezziwig's Christmas party, an amusing mid-'70s flashback, Marley woos the fey Scrooge, but their relationship falters due to Marley's excessive partying and Scrooge's internalized homophobia.

Godfrey's appetite for cliche is underscored in a scene reminiscent of a "Queer Duck" episode, with two catty queens playing a rather random game of gay trivia, complete with references to Oscar Wilde and The Wizard of Oz. The contrivance underscores exactly what's wrong with A Queer Carol. A greater playwright might have risen above such threadbare stereotypes and had more fun skewering them.


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A Queer Carol runs through Jan. 5 at 7 Stages Back Stage Theatre, 1105 Euclid Ave. Wed.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. No show Dec. 25. $12-$20. 404-371-0212.??





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