As might be inferred from its title, Broom Street Theater's A Very Bitchy Christmas (running through Dec. 17) is not a heartwarming holiday show for the whole family. It's a show for your most cynical, twisted friends, who will probably laugh until they slide off Broom Street's vinyl-topped benches.
In writer-director Brian Wild's latest endeavor, the members of one furiously dysfunctional family gather to re-create the traditional Christmas "story circle" founded by their recently deceased grandfather. The plot provides a convenient framework for some inspired theatrical absurdity. The clan's yuletide tales include everything from a brutal Jesus beating to a Christmas-themed sex shop (and if the thoughts "Santa" and "fellatio" have never been linked in your mind, after seeing A Very Bitchy Christmas you may not be able to separate them).
Between stories, the family grapple with their stoned, vindictive grandmother, who demands to be paid for all the food she's provided in Christmases past, and with their jealous cousins, a three-headed dragon, who have their own story circle in another dimension. I'm serious. Add some stylized, emotional staging that could have been choreographed by Martha Graham on an all-night eggnog binge, and you've got a Christmas show you won't see anywhere but Broom Street.
A Very Bitchy Christmas' cast of fearless performers (including the fantastic Scott Rawson, Annie Raffa and John Sable) never lets the energy dwindle. In its best moments, the play achieves the momentum of Monty Python's classic sketches, with unexpected twists piling up so quickly that the effect is dizzying. Its high-strung profanity wears a bit thin in places, but the show's unapologetic commitment to its own debauchery keeps A Very Bitchy Christmas surprisingly sincere.
Complemented by magical lighting and a playful musical score, the production trades standard holiday sentiment for nihilistic joy.