Chicago Reviews

“Klingon Christmas Carol” is a holiday gift to Star Trek fans

Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member.

Edge of Orion Theatre is well aware that most people already know the story of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In fact, with their annual holiday production, they are pretty much counting on it: A Klingon Christmas Carol is performed entirely in Klingon, an invented language stemming from the Star Trek franchise. Though (of course) supertitles are used for the audience’s benefit, it definitely helps to know the source material both for following the plot and noting the very significant differences that writers Christopher Kidder-Mostrom and Sasha Warren (with Klingon translation help from Laura Thurston, Bill Hedrick, and Chris Lipscombe) have made to Dickens’ story.

It isn’t likely that a warrior planet like Klingon would celebrate a holiday like Christmas, so the authors have transplanted the story to the Long Night, an invented Klingon tradition in which battles for family pride are conducted by chosen champions of each house. Battles occur throughout the show, both hand-to-hand combat and using such Klingon weapons as a “bat-leth,” a curved blade with three handles, frightening-looking knives, and the appropriately-but-unimaginatively named “pain sticks,” which are short poles that give off electrical charges. All battles are excellently choreographed by Rachel Flesher.

Director John Gleason Teske has gathered together a solid troupe of fifteen actors to play the various roles in the story. Elise Soeder functions as narrator, playing a Vulcan telling the story to assembled guests in perfectly paced, rational Vulcan delivery. Tony Bunnell plays the Scrooge character (here called SQija’) who undergoes a metaphysical transformation over the Long Night not only from miser to philanthropist but also from coward (read that: “interested in self-preservation”) to (fairly ineffective) warrior. His put-upon clerk QachIt is played by Matt Calhoun in a very different take on the usually cowed Bob Cratchit character: QachIt is actually a fierce warrior who could cut SQija’ down to size in a second except that he would lose his livelihood. He does have a “crippled” son, timHom (Liam Walsh), but this Tiny Tim is crippled mostly by being thin and untrained as a warrior.

When the ghost of SQija’s former partner marlI (Kent Joseph) pops up in SQuija’s bedroom foretelling a tragic fate if his old friend cannot shed his cowardly ways and do what he has avoided his whole life: fight, the stage is set for the tale as we (more or less) know it. Three ghosts (Ann-Claude Rakotoniaina, Rhys Read and Alex Dematralis) show up and walk SQija’ through his childhood, where he watches his young self (Zoe Sjogerman) wimp out on an opportunity to battle not just at school but at the party thrown by veSiwiq (Fezziwig, played by Erin Caswell); his present, including his annual failure to make it to his nephew vreD’s (Justin Blankenship) holiday fight party; and his future, which includes the usual thief selling off his belongings (to a merchant played by Xander Ferguson) and an eternity in the Klingon equivalent of hell. Along the way, it is clear that not only the men but the women on Klingon are well-trained fighters. Mandy Corrao, Julia Williams, and Angela Rak more than hold their own against the boys. (From a feminist’s standpoint, it’s also notable that the play itself includes considerable gender-blind casting.)

Of course, if you are all familiar with Klingons, you know the yeoman work that hair and make-up crew Meeka Hahn and Tracy Buchman have done in preparing fourteen “Klingon” actors for this show, as well as to the actors, especially Bunnell, who are able to play very realistic characters despite all of the makeu. And if you have any experience at all with plays, you’ll appreciate what Teske has done to keep the many very busy battle scenes here from becoming too repetitive. A shout-out also goes to the very creepy puppets designed by Jeff Harris that come out from beneath “Long Night Present’s” robe. This show has everything you’d want if you are a Star Trek fan looking for something thematic to do over this Christmas season. And if you aren’t, well, you might just love it anyway. It’s that much fun.

A Klingon Christmas Carol is now playing at the Edge Theatre, 5451 N Broadway, Chicago until Dec 16. Check the website for specific dates, times, and tickets. Find more information about current plays in our front page recs and

2 thoughts on ““Klingon Christmas Carol” is a holiday gift to Star Trek fans

  1. Sorry Ms. Topham, but I am not a Star Trek fan but thoroughly enjoyed this production (much to my husband’s surprise and pleasure). Also several other non-ST “tag-alongs” I overheard talking during intermission were taken in by the story/performance as well. I have recommended Klingon Christmas Carol to all of my friends (and not just my alien-loving ones).

    1. I’m so happy to be wrong about that! These people did an amazing job with the show and it’s great to know that non-Trekkies can enjoy it just as much as Trekkies will. I’ll go in an adjust a couple of my comments. 🙂

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