A great space Christmas
Audience | Criticism | Tradition
I’m not that familiar with Klingons.
Unwittingly, I’ve used them for years as shorthand for a flavor of entertainment I don’t consume. Friends might suggest a movie, and I’d say, no, that’s one of those knobby-headed alien movies, I’d prefer to drink quietly in my room, thank you.
Don’t go thinking I’m a snob either. Just last night my daughter caught me watching The Jersey Shore again. She walked in on me, right there in the entertainment room. The Jersey Shore was on again. And I was manifestly watching it. You may be sure she gave me hell on her way out.
But I avoid tales of the prosthetic races, in general. So now, having seen the Klingon Christmas Carol, presented by Commedia Beauregard in the Mixed Blood Theatre space, I am forced to report warmer and fuzzier feelings for this proud and imaginary race of interstellar warriors.
Klingons love fighting and war. They value courage and faux fur, and take great pride in their vigorously gutteral and spit-flinging language.
Their Christmas Carol, my stand-in for The Ghost of Christmas Future, presents the transformation of the Scroogian Squ’jah from a slippery coward who shames his family and lets down his society with various semi-familiar acts of slippery cowardice, until a procession of knobby-headed ghosts lead him to find his own inner courage and to act out his love for his employee’s weak-constitutioned child by teaching him to fight.
Commedia Beauregard’s central mission is translation, but like all great missions, the idea of translation lends itself to a lively variety of fast and loose interpretations.
CB has sometimes done what you might expect, new translations of dramas from other languages, but they’ve also done evenings of short plays translating paintings for the stage. Or shit with Klingons.
They did a Klingon Hamlet, which to me at least, seems a better reason to do Hamlet again than most theaters have. Reimagining the whole Danish clusterfreak in a made-up language and culture certainly promises more potential for real discovery than just hoiking through it again with some actors that are around in whatever period you have some costumes that fit them from.
Three parts of joy
As for Klingon Christmas Carol the joys of it may be, like Gaul, cleanly divided into three parts.
For a lot of Hard-Core Klingon Fans in the audience, well, it was exactly their thing, wasn’t it? And H-CKF’s (Hard-Core Klingon Fans) probably don’t get pandered to a lot.
They are one of those groups who don’t show up en masse at live theater that often—one of many such groups, larger than you might guess them to be, whose serial recruitment may provide a partial answer to the eternal question of season planners: Who is going to come to the theater when all these old folks die? Aha, eureka, zoiks! Fans of Golden Girls, Star Trek, Mary Tyler Moore, Nuns, Bingo, Days of Our Lives, Family Feud, Lancelot Link Secret Chimp, rejoice, all of you! Be assured your time too shall come!
H-CKF’s enjoyed a comedy of recognition and familiarity—in a social setting , a bonus, as “getting out of one’s room” is not always central to the hardcore “fan” experience.
For non-H-CKF’s, there was the pleasure of seeing the tools of the small theater world— spirited acting and vigorous theatricality not least among them—applied to an odd and flamboyant imaginary culture (kind of like what musical theater does, only with the funnier heads).
Klingon Christmas Carol looked like it was really fun to do too. Even the language sounded like the people who made it up laughed themselves silly in the process.
Beyond that though, under all the fun being had, there was a Final Frontier of goodness from KCC—something cheerfully pointed about turning the sentimental propaganda of A Christmas Carol onto the war-worshiping Klingons.
Just yesterday in the sauna I read in Newsweek that we are in “an extended period of peace." The lead editorial for the issue credited the rapid recovery of the world from its recent economic crisis to the “extended period of peace” the major powers have been enjoying.
"Whaaa?" I thought, continuing to sweat.
Part of the fun of watching Klingons may just be the sheer joi de vivre of honest bellicosity for a change. Our own wars seem to have become almost invisible. They’re “just” wars. We’re peaceful folks.
You can bet if the Klingons were in two wars at once, and had been for years, they would have the knobby alien balls to own up to it.
God bless them, every one.