Hell in a Handbag kinks up the holidays with its parody of the Rankin/Bass classic. This Christmas universe features a twist or two: Santa’s a profit-mad bastard, the Mrs. is a lush, all the elves are gay and Rudolph’s a sweet transvestite.
The Mary’s Attic stage doesn’t give the fifteen-person ensemble much room to shine, but the performers make do. Newcomer Alex Grelle rocks Rudolph’s red fishnets, which get him kicked out of the reindeer games. Jennifer Shine is punk-tastic as Clarice, Rudolph’s BFF/love interest(?). Christopher Walsh brings the nerd as Herbie, the homosexually challenged, dentist wanna-be elf, and Ed Jones is a giggle as the pickled Mrs. Claus.
David Cerda’s book contradicts itself; it questions gay stereotypes yet perpetuates them, and his sexual innuendos are none too subtle. No matter. The numbers are fun, and the singing and dancing chops are strong. It’s the antidote for a humbug holiday. (Lisa Buscani)
“Rudolph the Red Hosed Reindeer” plays at Hell in a Handbag Productions at Mary’s Attic, 5400 W. Clark, (800)838-3006, through January 2.