Charles Dickens is rolling in his grave. Portland Center Stage’s most recent production, The Second City’s A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens, completely disrespects the poor old guy and everything he stood for in this goofy rendition of that holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Co-written by former Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort, Twist Your Dickens is part parody, part improvisational comedy, and lots of comedy club laughs.
It’s loud, it’s rude, and it’s crude. And some of the most insane things take place on stage, including nods to several of Portland’s attendant weirdnesses.
Leading the cast is Craig Cackowski, back in the role of Scrooge. He’s still a mean old bugger. Bob Cratchit (Nicholas Kessler) cops an attitude and wears a Blue Tooth. And get out of the way of Mrs. Cratchit (Lauren Modica). She spends quality time trying to figure out how best to murder her husband’s boss. Of course there are Marley, the ghosts, and the other usual suspects–each special in his/her own way–plus cameos from some unusual ones. While Scrooge remains the constant, the other six cast members assume several roles and are on and off the stage so quickly one can only assume that with all the costume changes it’s mayhem off stage.
The Second City opened its doors in Chicago in 1959, and has trained such comedic greats as Gilda Radner, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Dan Aykroyd. Portland Center Stage was the first theatre company to secure the rights to produce Twist Your Dickens after its world premiere in Los Angeles. This is the third and final year of the production at PCS. Second City Theatricals, the live entertainment arm of the original institution, produces an array of entertainment in venues worldwide. Twist Your Dickens was its first show featuring full production values whereas most of their shows include only a few props and costumes.
Twist Your Dickens isn’t for everyone. If you are a by-the-book Dickens loyalist or under 14, this show probably isn’t for you. However, if you have a yen for something a little off the charts, need to lighten up, and are sick of elevator Christmas music, come on down. You will not be disappointed.
The show runs on the Main Stage of the Gerding Theatre from now through December 31.