Review: “A Peter N’ Chris-tmas Carol” at Performance Works
Comedy and Christmas go hand in hand. This is the time of year when people need humour the most. Vancouver improv and sketch comedy duo Peter N’ Chris know this very well, and it’s a notion they explore thoroughly in their holiday comedy performance piece A Peter N’ Chris-tmas Carol. Over the course of an hour, the hilarious twosome go balls deep in the snow with a seasonal magnifying glass that both salutes and sends up many yuletide favourites, namely revisiting the perennial Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.
But this version of A Christmas Carol is a far cry from the early 1800s take featuring stock characters and antiquated English colloquialisms. In fact, even Scrooge’s notorious “Bah Humbug” phrase is replaced with a new catchy phrase. Here we get rid of coal, references to banking, and the whole ‘change of heart’ plot twist. In their absence, we get hilarious Sarah McLachlan references, unwanted audience participation, and a whole lot of well needed crass humour. Throughout the show, Peter N’ Chris play a well developed cast of characters, sticking with Dickens’ original concept of ghosts lurking in one’s skeleton closet on Christmas Eve.
The cynical side of Christmas has been beaten to a bloody pulp by this point. It’s a tired hat for sure, but Peter N’ Chris know this and poke the bear a bit by subconsciously begging the question “Why can’t Christmas be enjoyable for everyone?” Their show proves that it can be, and all it takes is some well places curse words, some perfectly executed physical humour, and a wacky, bizarre script that shakes the construct of Christmas into a loveable, fun entity. It’s hard to not embrace the merriment when you have two men on stage letting loose and refusing to give a shit about looking silly. Silly is at the core of this whole act, but it’s backed up by the acting and comedy chops that boast originality and a refreshing voice.
It’s fun to take a common term we all just accept at face value and challenge its very occurrence. Peter N’ Chris do this throughout the show with the term “o’er”, during the lyrics of “Jingle Bells”. The tongue in cheek exchange has the two actors slyly inferring that leaving the letter v out of “over” sounds “so fast” and saves time. It’s a clever running joke that adds so much substance throughout the show. Just as soon as you’ve forgotten about the ridiculousness of “o’er”, it pops up again.
The hour long performance features bizarre recreations of Home Alone, “Jingle Bells”, and a ride on a Translink bus. The local and Canadian references laced into the performance were plentiful and added well received layers. Let’s just say nobody in the crowd will think of the Shoppers Optimum card the same again, after seeing the notorious plastic penny saver used in a life and death situation during this show.
The fun part about Peter N’ Chris in general is their ability to take the extreme and the benign and wrap them all up together in a hilarious, clever bundle that most of us would have never been able to envision in our own minds. But thank goodness someone out there has this brand of humour bubbling in their brain. Christmas will never been the same again. Let’s home Peter N’ Chris come back next Christmas with another blend of twisted holiday merriment.
Main Image: Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson in Vancouver Fringe’s A Peter N’ Chris-tmas Carol.