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
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
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 attheatreinchicago.com.