A Review – A Christmas Play ‘Twisted” too far

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Juan Carlos Osuna played Ebenezer Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Past, Caroline Danesi

EL CENTRO – If you were looking for a good ol’ family fun time, the play called “A Christmas Twist” presented by Mostly Theatre Company was not the place to be.

The play was performed over a three-day period at the Old Post Office Pavilion in El Centro. Families flowed in at a $5.00 admission fee to watch what they assumed was a Christmas play, many asking for a refund as the “Twist” became too crude for the young children in attendance.

The play was taken from the original Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge story line, but this was taken too far. As I watched guest leave after the first act, an act that involved swearing and belittling of homeless people, I hoped this can only get better, right?

Scrooge, who was played by Juan Carlos Osuna, remained true to the book’s mean, greedy character, but this time he was physically mean by hitting and “head-locking’ Bob Cratchit, played by Gilbert Vasquez.

Even the props failed, as when Tiny Twist, (yes, that’s right folks, Tiny Twist not Tiny Tim), who was played by Alec Estrada, 16, broke a crutch on the stage and had to waddled over to a chair.

From speaking about “whores with warts” or portraying a drunk on stage, Mr. Bumble, Scrooge’s nephew, played by Manuel A. Gonzales, was surely the most vulgar character on the stage.

This play not only had a large twist in it as the title clearly represents, but it also changed the whole storyline from a child’s favorite to an adult’s R-rated version.

First time director, Andreya Martinez, seemed to be tone deaf to the spirit of Christmas as she spoke on how proud she was of the play in her brochure, that she was “super stoked”, and how she has had a “wild ride making the play”. Martinez even stated, “this is what the Christmas season is all about.”

In the second act, the wardrobe disrepair of the Christmas ghosts was disconcerting. The ghost of Jacob Marley played by German Gallegos wore a homemade, glued together paper chain. The ghost of Christmas Past,played by Caroline Danesi, who was dressed in blue, appeared as a New Jersey accent speaking  fairy with a rude valley girl tone. Danesi was later seen as playing the “gravedigger” holding a human skull and mocking death by spitting on the ground were Scrooge was suppose to be laid to rest.

The Christmas ghosts in this play had no similarities to the original storyline whatsoever. Judith R. Klein-Pritchard played “Ghost of Christmas Present” and stood holding a large wine bottle and played a drunk Christmas ghost as she swigged at the bottle. Pritchard turned and opened her cloak as though she was “flashing” Scrooge, yelling at him to “take a look!”

She then turned faced the audience, to show she had two Pilgrim children pictures pinned to the inside of her cloak with a demonic type face drawn on the forehead of them.

Everything was thrown into the mix in this crazy twist of a play, from demonic pilgrims to a drunk, full-term pregnant “Belle” (Scrooges love interest), who was played by 17-year old, Shelbie Verbrugh.

A family, beloved classic was turned into one of the worst renditions I have ever seen. The lack of backdrops, shabby costume work, and no redeeming moral storyline, made this rendition of the Christmas Carol a twisted conglomeration of poor taste.