Beginning with its inception at Level Ground Arts, Santa Claus versus The Martians (an homage to the cult film) has delighted audiences with its ghastly, yet hilariously awful: acting, production values, film cliches, mind-bending double entendres (“What have you done with my Winky?”) and inspired bits of mischief and lunacy. Written and directed by Andi Allen (DFW’s Renaissance Woman of the Theatre) SCVTM is tweaked annually to keep it fresh and current. Andi and Producer Kevin Fuld were kind enough to invite me this year, understanding I could not write my review before it closed that night. It was staged by Camp Death at the Margo Jones/Nouveau 47 venue at Fair Park. Apart from the relief of finding a Christmas show that never references Scrooge, Tiny Tim or The Nutcracker or Sugarplum Fairies, it’s so pleasurable to find a show that has something for parents and offspring, without requiring an extra dose of insulin. If you know what I mean.
The Martian parents are concerned because their children seem overcome with ennui and weltschmertz. And who could blame them? No toys. No games. No jokes. They decide the only solution is to kidnap Santa Claus and bring him to Mars, where he can spread some serious Christmas cheer! In the process of said mission, they accidentally scoop up Billy and Betty Foster, two Earth kids who must have more on the ball than appearances suggest. Betty just loves to show off those Hello Kitty! underpants. Once on Planet Mars they do their best to keep the visitors comfortable and happy, but it’s just not the same. Needless to say, there’s also some treachery lurking.
Amongst the whistles and bells that await you at SCVTM, is the shameless, scene-gobbling use of cross-gender casting. And no one is more shameless or scene-gobbling than the brilliant Michael Moore as the boozy, flirtatious, neurotic Mrs. Santa as she swills a huge martini and comes on to anything in pants. Then there’s the twirking polar bear. And the faux-yoda oracle. And Trog the enormous killer robot. I cannot tell you if Camp Death will bring Santa Claus versus The Martians back for Christmas 2017, but in my experience it actually does get better every year, and it’s a welcome change from the same tired old nags they flog every year. Keep your antenna humming and your feelers poised.