Lumpy the Golem Boy was mixing with the crowd and collecting donations as Audrey Thompson-Wallace played the harp in the center of the room. It was The Best Place...somewhere between spirits in Boozy Bard’s production of A Christmas Carol. Dickens’ classic is probably the single best-known story of any kind in the Western world. It’s been adapted so many times in so many ways that anyone could recite the plot entirely from memory without even realizing they’ve done so.
And so it’s a perfect choice for a Boozy Bard show. (Or it would be if it had been written by Shakespeare.) It’s good. A lot of fun. The first of two evenings’ performances of the show happened on Friday the 16th of December. The Best Place was packed. If it wasn’t a sell-out crowd, it at least felt like one. The cozy, little bar was filled with people looking to watch Scrooge get haunted again. Stephen M. Wolterstorff served as a charismatically informal host for the evening’s proceedings as the show started.
Every show with Boozy Bard is drastically different from every other show with Boozy Bard. Actors choose roles at random from a hat. Last night’s Scrooge was barefoot for the entire show. A witty puppet served as narrator. It was weird. It was cool. The group raised a lot of money for the very worthy cause of Sojourner Family Peace Center.
Somewhere amidst drinks, scripts and various bits of costuming, the story unfolded. The adorably attentive, fuzzy blue visage of Lumpy the Golem Boy looked-on from as the all-too-familiar story shuffled across the stage with tastefully comic exaggerations of drama. It’s a weird improv comedy sort of an atmosphere that’s elegantly tethered to a streamlined adaptation of the classic holiday story. Audience and cast members took turns heckling the wealthy, old anti-hero in a fun and festive atmosphere. Every now and again, there’s something truly unexpected to anchor a Boozy Bard show. Last night it was Thompson-Wallace’s serious gravitas as Belle, who delivered a heavy weight to the evolution of Scrooge’s personality. Scrooge chooses greed over love and Lumpy is seen in the background comically slamming his face against the script in frustration. It’s such a weirdly unrehearsed energy the animates the moment...the type of thing that makes a Boozy Bard show as truly appealing and unique as it is.
There’s real warmth in a holiday crowd that has such an open distain for wealth. Want to go to a fancy adaptation with big sets and costuming that’s attended by people with money? You know where the Pabst Theatre is. There’s plenty of seating there. Want a closer, less formal brush with Dickens? The Best Place is...well...the best place for that. But here’s the catch: there’s only one performance left. The show starts at 7 pm. And y’know...get there early because last night seating filled-up pretty fast. (The line for the bar is pretty crazy too. So...y’know...consider that as well.)
Boozy Bard’s production of A Christmas Carol (Raw) emerges for its second and final performance tonight, December 17th at The Best Place Tavern in the Historic Pabst Brewery on 917 W Juneau Ave. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook Events Page.