Tuna, Texas: We've been here before, folks.
Last year, the same talented cast and team gave us
as the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3's holiday entertainment;
A Tuna Christmas
is the second in a trilogy by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams, and provides much to enjoy as John Zak and Benjamin Lloyd virtuosically play the 24 denizens of this tiny redneck town.
That they are all having a bizarre and difficult Christmas puts it mildly - for male and female, young and old, rich and poor, it's a hell of a holiday in Tuna. The local radio station, OKKK, introduces us to the Smut Snatchers of the New Order who are trying to clean up the lyrics of Christmas carols ("round yon virgin") while Elmer of Klan 429 invites everyone to the "whitest Christmas ever."
Didi Snavely's gigantic bosom wears a T-shirt with a picture of a deer and the message "Stop Staring at my Rack"; the motto of her used-weapons store is "If we can't kill it, it's immortal."
Her husband, R.R., sees UFOs, Paula the iguana eats only leaf lettuce, the sheep in the crèche keep stampeding, the local production of
A Christmas Carol
is threatened with an electricity shutoff, and the populace awaits the results of the annual competition for lawn decoration. Vera is expecting to win for the 15th year, but wait! The Christmas Phantom has struck again, destroying her display. Who could it be?
relied heavily on broad comedy and lightening changes.
A Tuna Christmas
gives more: although the lighting changes are still there, we get to see Lloyd and Zak, both accomplished actors, create genuinely interesting and moving characters. Especially good is the sweet last scene between Bertha and Arles, while the two waitresses at the Tastee Kreme, slinging around telephones, are terrific.
Madi Distefano's clever direction never lets a single moment sag, and she has invented endless ways for the two guys to disappear and reappear as somebody else. The set design by Meghan Jones provides much of their cover and our amusement, while Alisa Sikora-Kleckner's breakaway costumes and wigs are hilarious.
Through Jan. 4 at Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3, Ninth and Walnut Streets. Tickets: $30 Information: 215-574-3550 or 215-336-1234,