A Vancouver TheatreSports League production. At the Improv Centre on Granville Island on Thursday, December 1. Continues until December 23
Vancouver has produced its share of bona fide Bachelorettes: Jillian Harris, Kaitlyn Bristow, and Jasmine Lorimer. Add a new one to the list: the Christmas Queen.
The annual Vancouver TheatreSports League tradition is back, badder than ever. And its titular monarch is handing out roses. That’s the story line of this year’s edition.
The Grinchlike Queen (on opening night played by the always hilarious Pearce Visser) is down to the final four in her “amazing journey”: Santa Claus (Allen Morrison), Frosty the Snowman (Scott Patey), Elf on the Shelf (Margret Nyfors), and Owen Wilson (Andrew Barber). When the camera is rolling, old CQ is nothing but sweetness and light, but when director Bob Matchit (Clare Filipow) calls “Cut,” the Queen turns mean, the way we’ve grown to know and hate her.
Bachelorette fans will appreciate the references and pet phrases of the reality show we all love to ridicule. The Queen narrows down her choices in the gingerbread mansion after going on dates and hometown visits, all inspired by suggestions from the crowd. It’s great fun, aided by the fine comedic chops of all the performers, including Michael Teigen as Buttons, the narrator.
While the details can and do change from night to night, the plot points remain the same. I prefer the “winner” being different each time based on merit, but the story demands a set ending aimed to maximize the Christmas spirit.
What Christmas amalgam would be complete without a Tiny Tim–like character? In this case he’s unseen, but Tiny Jim plays a big part in the narrative. He’s Matchit’s sick child, and suffers from every manner of ailment. It was funny when he was given ridiculous afflictions like psoriasis of the bones, but less so when it was mentioned he had no stomach.
Visser was his usual balls-to-the-wall self, gleefully embracing his inner jerk, heckling the crowd, and trying to break his fellow castmates, at one point by going all-in and touching tongues with Frosty. Patey had fun with the snowman, playing him as a dim-witted airball; Morrison got in some political jabs at Trudeau’s pipeline approval; Nyfors had the best lines of the night; Barber was a jack-of-all-trades, doing whatever was needed; and Teigen kept things rolling with his infectious gosh-golly humour.
As Matchit, Filipow played things straight, but loosened up as different characters in the second half.
There’s something comforting in seeing the same old movies and plays each winter, but for my money it’s better to encounter some familiar characters in new and unfamiliar situations. Christmas Queen 3: The Bachelorette Edition is the most absurd entry into the season you’ll find. And that’s a good thing.