When pondering the typical symbols of the holiday season, what might come to mind is snowmen, candy canes or Santa Claus. And for the most part, theatre productions at this time of year are whimsically festive. However, “Sugar Plum Gary” takes these conventions and roasts them like chestnuts on an open fire.
“Sugar Plum Gary” is a one-man show which centers around; well, “Sugar Plum Gary.” The show is structured as an opportunity for audience members to ask questions to a fierce and passionate believer in Christmas: a man who swears that one year his orphanage was visited by Santa, leaving him as the only survivor.
This free-form structure gives the audience members an opportunity to learn more about the character, each answer only raising more questions. The show is assembled as if your third-grade teacher brought in a guest speaker and it went horribly wrong.
The premise and character of “Sugar Plum Gary” are conceived by standup comic/artist Emmett Montgomery. Montgomery has a talent for creating jokes which work at a surface level, but also show a deeper understanding of how comedy is partially based in fear and awkwardness.
Sugar Plum Gary talks slowly, never raising his voice which remains in a deep gravely tone. He moves slowly and methodically; however, there is a tension that permeates through every question asked by the audience. This creates an environment wherein the audience (including myself) would laugh uncontrollably from every action taken by the character. This may be as small as a stare held too long, or simply the snubbing of an audience member’s question. This is the type of show which brings the audience together in a mutual uneasiness and enjoyment of the production at hand. Montgomery presents a level of comedic talent that is unique, thoughtful, and side-splittingly hilarious.
If you are looking for a break from the overwhelming sweetness of the holiday season, I cannot recommend “Sugar Plum Gary” enough. The weirdness of having a man in red footie pajamas tell you how Santa pillaged his childhood orphanage is the perfect balance to the whimsy of the holiday season.
“Sugar Plum Gary,” by Emmett Montgomery. 18th and Union, December 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 2019.
Tickets Available At: https://18thandunion.org/sugar-plum-gary