Guy Picot’s smart black comedy, The Christmas Present, is a terrific deviation in holiday fair, taking a left turn into the dark alley of repressed desire and yearning need. The scene is set in an upscale hotel room that boasts expensive-looking red sheets on the bed, and, judging by the text of the script and the accents of the cast, takes place somewhere in the still United Kingdom. Colin (dynamic, energetic Troy Blendell), a fit-looking, middle-aged businessman, has booked a room and hired a prostitute for a thirty-six hour stint as a Christmas present for himself. Still smarting over his failed marriage and his sad, self-generated social isolation as upper management type, he is looking for the hooker to give him some kind of connection that, of course, includes sex and something more that is undefinable.
A beautiful, tall, willowy young woman, the aptly named Holly (Sophie Cooper), appears at the door dressed in a bustier, thigh-high boots, and fishnet stockings. She is a dream of a woman, at least for Colin. When she toddles off to the loo, there is a blackout and when the lights come up, another woman enters who is the antithesis of Holly. She is a thirtyish, workaday hooker named Debbie (Mandi Moss). She is all business coming in wearing a black wig, a wintry coat, black leggings and red snow boots. So what happened to the lovely Holly? Aha! She was his dream of a date; Debbie is the reality. Foxy playwright suckered me in!
The two-act play has many surprises that fulfill the promise of both the dark and the comedic. Directed by the playwright, the show is a fast paced, naughty delight with a great cast. A terrific sound design with an awesome playlist of swell variations of Christmas classics played before the show, between scenes, and during intermission, had me wanting to dance or sing along. When I heard the exit music start up, the Streisand version of the blisteringly fast, “Jingle Bells,” I just had to sing along all the way to the street as I left the theatre. Don’t miss this show. You’ll have fun.
The Christmas Present production team is Guy Picot, director; Rebecca Schoenberg, stage manager; Mark Hensley, producer; Zachary Bernstein, associate producer; DeAnne Millais, design consultant; and Scott Golden, publicity officer.
The Christmas Present runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 4pm and 8pm through December 22 at the Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood.