PR people tell me that my reviews are hard to excerpt. I'm not at all keen on altering my sentence structures for promotional purposes, but in the case of Seattle Immersive Theatre's Krampus Christmas, I will make an exception. This show is an embarrassment. Worse than a swan boat ride with your uncle. Hard to see how it's not a scam. All of it is bad. An insult to time. Might be fun for cats. I have had more fulfilling cultural experiences at Buffalo Wild Wings. Wish I could say worse about it, but the essential human dignity of the people involved in the show prevents me from doing so.
As with all SIT productions, there are two parts to the show. Part one involves standing around an elaborately constructed lounge designed to set the mood. I arrived a little late and spent my five minutes there trying to determine whether the $10 syrupy cocktails they sell cover the cost of the install. (Disclosure: I have had cocktails at SIT before, but I did not try one this time. I saw someone drinking from a plastic cup brimming with what looked like green milk puke and decided I'd prefer the show sober.) In this case, the lounge resembled a fancy English parlor. Rich mahoganies. Christmas trees everywhere. An actor dressed up like Santa Claus sat in a big chair and really played up the lech vibes, you know, because this is supposed be a "naughty" show, a real "scintillator."
(Note: Regular priced tickets for Krampus cost $35, but for a cool $325 you and three friends can become Santa's Special Elves, a VIP package that includes "admission to the show and champagne service for 4 people, a keepsake photo print with Santa, and a gift for each special elf.")
Part two of the show is essentially a Christmas-themed haunted house that lasts for 45 minutes. An elf corrals 20 audience members and instructs them to crawl through a fireplace, which leads to a typical elementary school classroom, the first of many environments that are, I'm happy to admit, sufficiently transportive and well-constructed. In the classroom, the audience sits at tiny desks with names like "Carol" and "Shannon" scrawled across them, and the elf runs through a quick history of Santa Claus and the Krampus, a yuletide demon-satyr who feeds on hate. He's like an anti-Santa.
The elf then guides the audiences through a maze of different sets, where we stop to observe performances—poorly written, melodramatic vignettes—that all end the same way. One person or a group of people do something mean to a sympathetic figure, and then the Krampus and his two gremlin helpers intervene just before anything too "naughty" or "gruesome" happens. Honestly, there's not much more going on than that, and I'm so pre-bored by the idea of summarizing one of these ill-conceived cliché-clusters that I refuse to do it.
The other audience members contribute to the show's awfulness. I am loath to loathe other people. I think making quick judgments about people and jumping to conclusions about their lives is the least interesting way to see the world, but observations of my fellow audience members at this show made me feel differently. They earnestly laughed at bad jokes about tits and poop. Two dudes next to me cracked one-liners to each other throughout the show—but they were so dumb, they couldn't even make each other laugh. In the elementary school, my friend sat at the desk with the name "Carol" on it, and two of the audience members kept calling him Carol during transitional moments or when he waited for the bathroom. I'd guess that 40 percent of them are regularly deceived by fake news. Maybe 20 percent of them were there because they like "weird dates" and committed to a Groupon. If any of them sat next to me on an airplane, I just know that they'd ask a bunch of invasive questions and then blather on about their vague job.
So I take everything back. If you see yourself in the above paragraph, then this show will satisfy you.
But for everyone else, if you're looking for good theater this weekend, consider seeing 9 Ounces, a one-woman show by Anastacia Tolbert at Gay City. The show is a narrative about a family trying to make it through tough times (medical issues, addiction) with language and imagination. I saw an early version of the show at Hugo House last year, and Tolbert tells me she's since tightened it up and adjusted some of the content to account for the election. Or go see The Little Mermaid at 5th Avenue Theatre, which closes on December 31.