At this point, I’m not sure if shows like “Fat Man Crying” are really an alternative to traditional holiday shows. It’s not that it takes a conventional look at the holiday — most don’t have Santa Claus drinking straight from a bottle of Jameson whiskey — it’s just that there seems to be as many “alternative” shows as traditional ones like “A Christmas Carol” or “Black Nativity.”
Whatever you call it, Joe Scrimshaw’s popular show — the first produced by his new endeavor, Joking Envelope — hits tons of comedic highs, and even has a few poignant things to say about relationships and what brings people together.
The action is set in the sixth-floor apartment of anal salesman George and wanna-be writer Skye. It’s clear from the start that they live in different worlds, but they’ve managed to make their relationship work. That all changes when a despondent Santa shows up with a confession: He’s lost his magic touch, all because of a letter he got from a bitter loser who goes by the name of “The Dave.”
Over the course of Christmas Eve and day, the group pokes, prods and finally violates the private places of a relationship, the meaning of kindness and what makes a selfish man tick. Scrimshaw’s script plays with a lot of familiar pieces, but his deft understanding of relationships — and a geeky, self-aware sheen — make it ring with truth instead of schmaltz. The cast, led by Matt Erkel as the ultimate sad Santa, makes it all sing. And, if you wish, you can even have your picture taken with their Santa after the show (no guarantees that you’ll get your wish for a bottle of whisky under the tree, however).
“Fat Man Crying” runs through Dec. 20 at the Minneapolis Theater Garage, 711 W. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. Tickets are $20, with $3 off for Fringe Buttons, students and seniors. For tickets, call 612 -280-9210 or check online here.