By: Jason Sheppard
The St. John’s Players present a humorous holiday play unlike any local audiences have seen before with their adaptation of The Christmas Spirit
One can expect the usual people to drop by over the holidays – family, friends and of course, Santa. But what if somebody very unexpected decided to drop in unannounced – somebody who called himself the grim reaper?
One might want to call the RNC should that happen, but in the play The Christmas Spirit, the Grim Reaper comes for a nice grandmother – and then winds up attending her family holiday dinner.
“We did a Christmas show last year which was a more adult show and people just raved about it,” said director Louise Kearley of The St. John’s Players who are bringing The Christmas Spirit to the stage.
Kearley read around 30 plays, trying to find the right one for this year when she came upon this one by American writer Frederick Stroppel.
“We chose this play because first of all, it was very well written and not a piece of fluff. It is death coming to get the characters and while it is hysterically funny, it causes you to think about what do you want to achieve in life and what do you view death as?”
Death is portrayed by actor Sean Collins who feels the play is very unique and admits he really enjoys this role. “This character has a very off-the-wall sense of humour which is very reflective of my own personality. This character allows me to express that side of myself. ”
Susan Bonnell plays Julia, the woman Death has come to take on Christmas Eve. She feels the play, while humorous, has a lot of depth to it.
Death Comes to Dinner
“My character is reflecting on her own parenting style and her relationship with her children and her sister and her brother-in-law and she’s clever, she’s witty. She talks Death into coming for Christmas dinner, which has lots of hilarity in it.”
Bonnell’s role is also a very physical one which she feels is exciting for a performer. “Doing the physical comedy along with saying great lines, I enjoy that.”’
The play roller-coasters into comedy, but it does take a dip into some serious material. The Christmas Spirit is made for adults only, with humorous material which will counter-balance some of the more serious themes. “This is definitely not a Hallmark type of play,” Collins adds. “It deals with real life.”
Kearley decided to adhere to The Christmas Spirit’s text by keeping everything as it was written by Stroppel. The only thing they changed was the place names, so instead of New York and Manhattan they changed it to St. John’s and Mount Pearl.
Start of the Season
“These are universal themes and ideas so it really doesn’t matter where the location is set,” said Bonnell. “Audience members identify with the themes in The Christmas Spirit. It’s in early December, so it’s an excellent way to start your holiday season. It’s a very reflective play to think about what matters to you. And we really want audiences to just have a good laugh. This has been a fun group to work with and we want that to be reflected in the performance when people come to see us.”
The Christmas Spirit runs December 5-8th at the Arts and Culture Centre. For tickets call 729-3900 or visit artsandculturecenre.com