“I wonder if they’ll go to Sto-Vo-Kor…Will it all be in Klingon? I bet you it takes place on Terra! Do you think they’ll fight with Bat’leths?!?!”- Boyfriend
“…I’m here for you, honey.”- Girlfriend
A trip to see E.D.G.E Theatre’s A Klingon Christmas Carol is much more than you’re your average night at the theatre. It is moms dolling out purse snacks to fellow audience members. It is a way to introduce a loved one to your favourite fandom (see the dialogue above). Above all else, it is a celebration of the Star Trek universe and its Klingon culture and customs of honour and courage.
Written by Chicago locals Christopher Kidder-Mostrom and Sasha Warren, 90% of this play is performed entirely in Klingon. The other 10% is spoken in English by a very logical and eloquently versed Vulcan (played by Aly Grauer). If you do not speak Klingon, do not fear- a direct translation is shown through projection while you watch the play. As an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, this script works particularly well when infused with Klingon culture and belief systems. Instead of Scrooge merely being an old jerk, Squja (Tony Bunnell) is both miserly AND cowardly as he has not completed his Rite of Ascension, essentially rendering him still a child in his old age. And just like in A Christmas Carol, our Scrooge (aka Squja), is visited by three spirits and, in the end, amends his miserable and spineless ways.
Director John Gleason Teske has been charged with a particularly difficult task of staging something so expansive in an incredibly intimate theatre. A friend of mine who is a major Trekkie suggested to me that a show based in the Star Trek world, featuring Klingons, should be performed like an opera. After seeing A Klingon Christmas Carol, I am inclined to agree. However, being a storefront theatre performer myself, you work with what you’ve got and Teske did that very well. Some of the most delightful moments of the show were ones where Teske’s handiwork was clearly evident, particularly in the scene where the rugged warrior Vred (Drew Mierzejewski, consistently breathing energy onto the stage) meets his future wife (the fierce Rikka Leigh) and any scene featuring young Timhom (played by the adorably confident worm-eater Lucy Lodder Lindstrom, who was impossible to not watch when on stage).
Additionally, Fight Choreographer (and Artistic Director of E.D.G.E) Orion Couling was tasked with the challenge of choreographing several fights with very large weaponry in exceptionally tight quarters. I was sitting in the front row and never felt unsafe or disengaged with the fighting as several actors exhibited passionate combat skills befitting a Klingon.
For me, it was lovely to see so many female actors inhabit the Klingon culture and styles. I particularly enjoyed seeing Laura Jewell in the role of Squja’Qup (young Scrooge) falling for Cat McKay’s Bel. Their brief but heart-breaking scene stood out to me as one of the most emotionally connected moments of the play. While theses two actors were speaking in Klingon, it was clear they were trying to DO something to each other. It was incredibly effective. I also really enjoyed Andrea Hansen brutal and aggressive approach to Emli (Mrs. Cratchit) which made a nice coupling to her husband (played by Matt Calhoun) as the soft-hearted Qachit (Cratchit). Finally, Aly Grauer’s Vulcan was a delightful palate-cleanse whose intellect and whit shone in every raised eyebrow and inquisitive pursed lip on her expressively non-expressive face.
The men showcased some of the best vocal work in the cast and, as a dialect coach myself, I enjoyed that many of them were using their diaphragms to enhance the Klingon dialect. Our leading man, Squja (Tony Bunnell) excelled when full-voiced and belly-giddy, rendering his scene of transformation his best work in the show. A love of Star Trek and its universe was highlighted across the entire cast and any slight mishaps were quickly overtaken by the community with which playwrights Christopher Kidder-Mostrom and Sasha Warren have created.
This play might not be for everyone, but it is certainly for the right ones. Unlike the barrage of general holiday theatre in Chicago, A Klingon Christmas Carol offers specificity and holiday joy to an audience that is often overlooked. I left the theatre thinking about the importance of marrying our favourite fandoms to our art and just how much enjoyment that coupling can bring to the world around us.
A Klingon Christmas Carol runs December 1-18th, Thurs-Sat at 8 pm and Sun at 2 pm. You can purchase tickets by visiting their website at http://theatre.edgeoforion.com/klingon-christmas-carol/ where you can also find out more about E.D.G.E Theatre and their work.
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