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Christmas Stopping: Laughs for the Miserable Holiday Spirit

Every family has its Grinch and Scrooges, and it’s very known that some people just can’t get into that Holiday spirit every end of the year. We’ve all heard that statistic about suicides increasing during the Christmas season, or how commercialism has taken over what is supposed to be a spiritual and family celebration. So many of us would jump for joy at the thought of it all going away, wouldn’t we?

That’s the idea behind James Rayfield’s Christmas Stopping, playing at the Theatre Guild of Ancon for six dates this late November and early December.

This witty play tells the story of Grant (Rob Getman), an intellectual psychiatrist obsessed with suppressing Christmas from his curious family. Daughter Meredith (María José Rojas), in her late 20s, lives in La La Land shopping like there’s no tomorrow and, somewhat surprisingly, still believes in Santa Claus; son Baxter (Carlos Alemán) is focused on breaking up with all his college girlfriends before the holidays, a personal tradition for his piece of mind; and Mom Alice (Tevia Brooks) just wants to keep everything cool and happy, although she comes out as annoying.

Grant gets paranoid when he starts noticing all the signs of the upcoming Christmas celebrations –silver bells, carols, sales at the mall– and preaches on his relatives about the ironies and stupidity of the holiday spirit. After all, he is working on a book titled Christmas: Silent Night or Silent Killer! When he finally confronts his daughter about the inexistence of the jolly fat guy in the red suit the family goes into chaos, and some surreal situations lead him up to discover what’s truly important about your loved ones and all the Xmas craziness.

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Rebel daughter, zen mom, horny son and obsessive dad: the holiday spirit in full effect!

Keitha Kushner and Ingrid MacCartney direct Christmas Stopping, with production credits going to Gale Celluci and Ramona Rhoades. The play has an overall 80s sitcom vibe, with the family home living room as the main action space (the door and the window are key), and funny remarks coming from the offbeat kids and the wacky adults. The double directors even played the double cast card, with two sets of actors playing the mother, daughter and son roles on different nights while Getman –a Guild veteran of recent years–delivers a comedic performance worthy of a Woody Allen ensemble. The whole theatre gets into the holiday spirit for this year-end play, with Christmas decorations on its wooden porch, funny sweaters on the bartenders and even a blue-robed choir singing classic carols during the intermission.

The play was written by James Rayfield, a Tampa Bay area theater teacher, writer and director. The offbeat comedy is there, as well as the statement against the in your face Hallmark style of consumerism; and even though the plight of the modern parent dealing with all of this Christmas stress adds some depth to the action, some ideas and situations come off as odd, like the aloof twenty something still believing in Santa and turning into a Madonna style tramp once reality peaks in.

As the Guild’s 2016 season comes to a close, theater lovers celebrate another year of laughs, dramas, breakthroughs and quality local entertainment. Christmas Stopping will play at 8pm on November 17th, 19th, 25th and December 1st, with Sunday 4pm shows scheduled for November 26th and December 3rd. Get your tickets here

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