Christmas Smackdown | iO Theater | Improv/Sketch | Chicago Reader
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When: Tuesdays-Thursdays. Continues through Dec. 16 2010
Price: $14
Cynical, adult-themed Christmas shows have become de rigueur on the theater fringe, but none is as clever, tuneful, or unpredictable as this new musical revue written and directed by Mark Nutter and Cynthia Carle. The pair take the holiday season to task for its forced cheer, obligatory gifting, and idiot drunks, but rarely in a conventional way. Instead they turn songs about lotion samples, the SkyMall catalog, or an obsessive stalker into sly critiques of Christmas angst. Their loose, occasionally even ragged staging becomes as inviting as a family sing-along in the hands of a charming four-member cast. The 90-minute production never lacks for wit or smarts--which probably explains why Nutter and Carle have yet to make it on Broadway. --Justin Hayford

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