Christmas Queen 2 is hilarious holiday fun
by Guy MacPherson , The Georgia Straight on December 4th, 2015 at 2:22 PM
At the Improv Centre on Thursday, December 3. Continues until December 20
My son has a rule: if you do something as a family two years running, it’s a tradition that must be upheld. Looks like we’ve got ourselves a new one. And so does Vancouver TheatreSports with the second incarnation of Christmas Queen.
It’s a big, colourful production with more bells and whistles than most shows at the Improv Centre. The plot points are different this time around, but it’s still the same garishly outlandish monarch we love to hate.
With the cross-dressing Queen and cheers and boos directed at heroes and villains, it’s in the style of a family-friendly panto. But this being improv comedy, the occasional double (or single) entendre is loosed in the moment. It’s all good. They’ll fly over the heads of the young’uns or become the favourite moments of the preteens like my kid.
This year, the Queen (played on opening night by the larger-than-life Pearce Visser) visits Santa’s workshop. Ruffles the narrator (Denise Jones) leads us to the North Pole and introduces us to elves Smarty (Brian Cook), Party (Michael Teigen), Farty (Margret Nyfors), and Marty (Nathan Clark), and eventually to the guileless St. Nick (Andrew Barber), who met CQ on vacation and brought her back with him. It was all on the up-and-up, since dear old Mrs. Claus had gone missing ages ago.
But the Queen can’t mask her true intentions for long. She wants Christmas done away with. In one of the best scenes of the night, Visser gives a tour-de-force performance eviscerating the elves (and occasional audience members) one by one while Santa is out. And the elves weren’t too shabby themselves, cowering in her wake.
Barber also stood out as Santa, particularly in the bedroom argument scene with his new love. When the Queen complains that Santa cares more about his work than about her, he screams, “I work one day a year!” and “This is my passion!” It didn’t end well for him as, on this night, the Queen tied him up with her crochet yarn so he’d miss the big night.
And miss it he did. But it was early enough in the show that there was time to get Christmas back. I won’t reveal how, since that is a major element of the story (audience suggestions fill in the details), but it’s pretty great. This is theatre of the imagination, after all, where anything can happen. Kudos to creators Denise Jones and Brian Anderson for the craziness, and to the actors for pulling it all off.
Christmas Queen 2: You Better Watch Out runs Thursdays through Saturdays until December 20 at the Improv Centre on Granville Island. Book tickets