Review: 'Chlamydia for Christmas and Herpes for Hanukkah: More Sex-Ed Burlesque for the Holidays'
A new show from Flashpoint Theatre puts some raunch into the holidays. Inquirer theater critic Howard Shapiro reviews from the Adrienne Theatre in Center City.
By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
'Tis the season to be jolly, so grab some egg nog, roast a few chestnuts, don a pair of oversized holiday-colored pasties and twirl your bazooms.
That's the way they're celebrating the season at Flashpoint Theatre — well, OK, I admit, not the roasting chestnuts part or the egg nog — where the world premiere of the unfortunately named Chlamydia for Christmas and Herpes for Hanukkah: More Sex-Ed Burlesque for the Holidays shoots forth like hormones racing down the stairs on Christmas morning.
Chlam, which I'll call it for short, is the brainchild, or some other part, of two of the theater company's co-founders, Gigi Naglak and Meghann Williams, and is directed by a third, Amy Smith. It's an offshoot of a show they did at the Live Arts Festival /Philadelphia Fringe called Chlamydia dell'Arte, which they exported to the Fringe in Washington, D.C., infusing the nation's capital with even more lunacy.
The holiday version is, as its name implies, a series of skits for adults built around holiday themes — some merely risque, some bordering on gross, many of them very funny and dumb in a way that befits such an outing. The two women seem game for almost anything — if you are going to put on a show like this, you'd better be — and Chlam is peppered with amusing (and sometimes serious) content on a rear-wall screen between skits.
Chlam is running at the Adrienne Theatre in repertory with Flashpoint's traditional holiday show, a dramatization of David Sedaris' insightful and charming The Santaland Diaries, a memoir of his days as a department- store elf. It couldn't be more different than Chlam in content, but the two have in common a showy irreverence.
In the 75-minute Chlam, that extends to feather dancing, striptease with a holiday bent, cooking shows (a cook-with-wine program quickly devolves), a discussion about virgin birth between Mary and Joseph, and a mockery of those K-tel ads on TV that peddle song compilations with quick cuts from each tune playing as titles roll by.
In this case, the collection is of "Dildo Holiday Classics," and even as I write this I have to stop from laughing because the idea is so outrageously stupid and its execution, so bright. Naglak and Williams, in holiday costumes, stand to the side and sing spoofs as dildo-laden song titles roll on the back screen against a warm holiday background. "Feliz Novedildo" anyone?
OK, I said Chlam was as aptly dumb as it is raunchy. There's a curious gender aspect to this show: If two talented guys did it, we'd likely dismiss them as sophomoric boys who become men, or sophomoric men obsessed with a low-taste locker-room version of macho.
Two talented women do it, and it seems funny and emancipated and if not art, at least a clever violation of it. Gee, what does that say about sexual equality and perception? I'll tell you, after I stop laughing at that dildo thing.
Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, email@example.com, or #philastage on Twitter.
Chlamydia for Christmas and Herpes for Hanukkah: More Sex-Ed Burlesque for the Holidays: Presented by Flashpoint Theatre and playing at the Adrienne's Second Stage, 2030 Sansom St., through Dec. 17, in repertory with The Santaland Diaries. Tickets: $10-$20. Information: 215-665-9720 or www.flashpointtheatre.org.