Final show 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Parliament House
410 N. Orange Blossom Trail
Jesus Christ, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus walk into a bar. (Please don't stop me if you've heard this one; trust me, you haven't.) Ever since his dad abdicated heaven for a lengthy sabbatical, the son of God (Joe Swanberg) has turned into a sloppy stoner, spending his days hawking "Holy Crap!"—branded pop-culture detritus like "Jesus Jeans" — and annoying bartenders by ordering tap water, which he turns into wine (cheap Jew). His drinking buddy, the Easter Bunny (David Lee), chomps cheap cigars and terrorizes autograph-seeing admirers by distributing eggs extracted from his sweaty underwear.
And Santa has gone completely off his sleigh, ever since the buxom Mrs. Claus (Darby Ballard) went rogue and hooked up with J.C.'s marketing machine to sell her signature crafty cookies ("They're like happy in my brain!"). Now the lisping St. Nick (Michael Wanzie), convinced that he's really the reincarnation of ancient Norse über-god Odin, has snatched the big Bunny and tied him up with tinsel, intending to torture the oversized egg-secreter into accepting that he's actually the pagan female fertility goddess Estra. It's all part of Mrs. Claus's sinister scheme with arch-angelic boy-toy Michael (Steven Arwood) to overthrow the afterlife by tricking Jesus into renouncing his thorny crown.
Oh, and did I mention Santa's apoplectic elfin assistant Sprinkles (Eric Fagan), who pops up to deliver "Theology 101" exposition on the absorption of ancient archetypes by the early Christian church?
Holy Crap!, the sacrilegious slapstick running at the Parliament House's Footlight Theater is the debut script from writers Dustin Burton, Taylor Bulloch and Lucas Koester. The result is a convoluted combination of theological anthropology, overly complicated conspiracy plotting and South Park-ian silliness. Thank heavens the writers secured director Kenny Howard, who has a track record of casting actors who can spin script straw into comic gold (and frankincense and myrrh). The leads here do more than their fair share to make this mess work; Lee leverages big laughs from his besotted bunny's pratfalls, Swanberg is a stitch as he crucifies himself on the bar top ("I'm so hammered!"), and watching Wanzie waddle onstage in full horny Viking regalia is worth the price of admission.
Author Burton is a UCF film grad student, so perhaps the video sequences (which were MIA due to technical difficulties during my attendance) would smooth the awkward transitions and storytelling inconsistencies. At its best, Holy Crap! is like a raunchy Rankin-Bass holiday special by way of The Big Lebowski. At worst, it's a reminder that the Fringe festival, where such sloppy satire is standard, is only six months firstname.lastname@example.org