Santa is a Scumbag: Review

ISA BONACHERA is not amused by a show that ‘manages to offend everyone’

ADC Cambridge Comedy depression domestic abuse santa

I am usually very easily amused by the comedies I see in Cambridge but this time I am not impressed. 

Santa is a Scumbag is an adaptation of a play that was originally written in French, Le Père Noël est une Ordure. Aurélien Guéroult did a good job of translating and adapting the jokes in this play, but other than that, the script is less than satisfactory. It was full of bad comedic choices: it trivializes depression and domestic violence; it has a character whose only comedic trait is the fact that he is foreign and all female characters are unintelligent. All in all it was full of cringe-worthy moments.

The show starts with the very promising premise of two ‘Distress buddies’ volunteers working on Christmas day. The show has the potential to address some very delicate topics including mental health, domestic abuse, suicide, and sexual identity.  Instead of using this opportunity to  make the audience reflect on these issues, this adaptation just manages to offend everyone. Santa is a Scumbag is quite insulting, and I was uncomfortable from start to finish.

The audience reaction to the show was mixed: some were laughing at the misdirected oddity of the play, and the bizarre sudden personality changes of the characters; some were face palming throughout.

The play was almost saved by some stellar performances

The actors had to work with a difficult and un-funny script, the only reason that I am not giving this show a lower review is because of the stellar performances of some of the actors, managing to make this show somewhat bearable. Daniel Rasbash (Katia) played a transgender fireman with depression who decided to show up at the office of the helpline. Rasbash’s character was very poorly written, but he manages to give tasteful and outstanding performance all while in really high heels. Rasbash performance is funny at times, but also raw and tragic. The tone of Rasbash’s voice when his character was talking about his personal sorrows gave me goosebumps. Playing a crossed-dress character with depression is as challenging as a character can get, Rasbash is extremely brave and a very promising actor.

It’s not clever and it’s not funny

I also need to highlight the performances of Will Dalrymple (Felix) and Posey Mehta (Shanice). Dalrymple’s character was also quite challenging because it keep changing and evolving throughout the show. At the beginning, Felix is an abusive fiancé trying to get his girlfriend back, then it is revealed that he is depressed, becomes a cheater, and, finally, he is a sociopath all of a sudden.  Dalrymple’s performance is skillful because he manages to effectively play a character that is a cocktail of conflicting personality traits. Mehta gives an over-the-top performance of a trashy and illiterate pregnant woman. Mehta’s performance is energetic and entertaining, the few times the audience laughed was thanks to her.

Sometimes comedy is supposed to be shocking and push the boundaries of the audience, but the story behind Santa is a Scumbag is just grotesque for no reason. If you enjoy shocking over-the-top stories, then Santa is a Scumbag is the show for you.

54 %, a mid 2.2