Christmas Carol Conspiracy: A Dickens of a Christmas

Borrowing a fairly bad script from Bob Bedore at Off Broadway Theatre, the Desert Star Playhouse has turned “A Christmas Carol Part II” into “Christmas Carol Conspiracy: A Dickens of a Christmas.”

The Off Broadway Theatre version, which was performed last year, is short on jokes and long on sentiment as it tells about what happened to Scrooge after his turn-around. Seems he became TOO soft, falling prey to any swindler who wants money, and especially to a vengeful Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, seeking retribution for all those years of abuse.

Jansen Davis and Scott Holman have adapted the script for Desert Star, shortening it considerably and taking out the message (which is fine: You don’t want messages at Desert Star). Unfortunately, they forgot to put any more jokes in it. At Desert Star, we’re used to lots of pop culture references, bad puns, elaborate sight gags and general lunacy. “Christmas Caorl Conspiracy” is gentle on all those points.

There are bright spots, of course. The tradition of having a Dickens-like character narrate “A Christmas Carol” is satirized, as the narrator becomes too intrusive and must be told to shut up. As Scrooge (Steven Fehr) undresses for the evening, he takes off his balding wig, too, revealing a full head of hair, which he then re-covers with a balding wig/nightcap combo.

The between-scenes parodies of Christmas carols, which also serve as narration after the Dickens guy is ditched, are sparkling and witty.

And there’s Scott Holman. He is often the best thing to watch at the Desert Star Playhouse, and his turn as a surly Ghost of Christmas Present is highly amusing. (He also has a brief but hilarious appearance as an out-of-place George Bailey when Christmas Past accidentally shows Scrooge the wrong Christmas.)

In short, there are laughs here, but few and far between. Desert Star shouldn’t have tied itself down to this lackluster script, even if they did intend to adapt it to their needs. It needed more than just an adaptation; it needed a complete turn-around, just like Scrooge, and it didn’t get it.

It’s too bad, because the idea of Bob Cratchit seeking revenge on a meek Scrooge is very funny. It’s an opportunity lost; hopefully Desert Star will redeem itself in the new millennium.

Probably the least-entertaining show we'd seen at the Desert Star Playhouse to this point. I had a bad feeling about it from the start, knowing they'd taken the script from the not-too-good "Christmas Carol 2" from the year before; turns out I was right about that. Oh, well.