Alpha males amok in Camp Death’s Sleigh Hard

Camp Death Productions specializes in spoofing movie genres: film noir, psycho-killer at the summer camp, dangerous dames do double duty as spies and supermodels. This kind of thing. As you might infer, Kevin Fuld’s Sleigh Hard With A Vengeance is a gleeful, absurd homage to the Die Hard franchise, built upon the Bruce Willis Ultracool Alpha paradigm. The first Die Hard (and perhaps the others) is set over the Christmas Holidays, and therefore ideal for holiday mirth.

Los Angeles Cop Mac Kane is visiting his estranged wife at the North Pole, where she holds a very prestigious position at Santa’s Toy “Shop”, in Human Resources. [I think.] Much to his dismay, he discovers a diabolical (yet erudite) villain, with a team of dedicated henchman, all set to break into Santa’s vault, regardless of the cost to human life. The local police captain is aggravated by his hot-dogging antics. His wife still loves him, despite her inability to ignore his insufferable personal flaws. There’s the international gathering of ne’er-do-wells and criminal gearheads (their vivid clothing doesn’t match their cartoony accents). Russian triplet assassins who wear kilts. One of the elves wears sunglasses and takes sexual harassment to a new low. Mrs. Santa Claus, kind and gentle, speaks very casually about sex, which is pretty icky.

Some of you may be acquainted with Andi Allen’s tribute to Santa Claus Vs. the Martians, often hailed as one of the worst films ever made. Allen’s comedy has played Dallas, during the Christmas season, with new dialogue added to keep it fresh. Over time it has become something of a cult favorite, and a big success. This hybrid genre (I often refer to as Garage Comedy) is marked by extremely humble production values, such as a car indicated by two chairs and sound effects. Like other genres it may seem like a formula, but that’s only because talented people make everything look easy. Consider the brilliance of Andy Kaufman’s Mighty Mouse number. Who else could have pulled that off? As for Garage Comedy, the deadpan delivery and celebrity imitation, ridiculous inconsistencies, the genre devices that seem inane outside of context; they don’t work if the chemistry’s off. And even the fairly good ones can be hit or miss. Comedy, through the ages, still continues to be more skill than science.

Kevin Fuld’s script is clever, it goes beyond a cursory grasp of the essential Die Hard structure. Some of the best routines are: the pointless way Kane rolls across the floor, the guy who shows just to clean up when there’s a corpse, the revelation the arch-villain loves My Little Pony. It’s hilarious when Kane directly addresses audience members, encouraging them to laugh, or the response when various characters are horrified to discover they’re actually handling sex beads. While all the gags, slapstick, mugging, hamming and madcap panic don’t necessarily connect, the instincts of Fuld, resourceful director Nathan D. Willard, and this playful, ingenious, versatile cast often save the moment, engaging their loopy, comic sensibilities. Fuld has a gift for whimsical, impulsive details that carry us to the sublime realm of Tickleville.

Featuring the talents of Joe Cucinotti, Lindi Wade, Jeny Siddall, Bill Otsott, Robert Shores, Daniel White, Robin Daffinee Coulonge, Ginger Goldman, Dylan Mobley, Israel Varela, Moises Abran Zamora, Sunny Bundy and Hallie Kathryn Davidson.

Camp Death Productions presents Sleigh Hard With A Vengeance. Show runs December 2-23, 2017.Margo Jones Theatre, 1121 1st Avenue, Dallas, TX 75210. 214-646-3114.

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