'Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake)'
Bringin' sexy back down the chimney
If you've had your fill of Ebenezer Scrooge, George Bailey, and the Grinch in your yuletide dramatic fare, how about some Justin Timberlake and Harrison Ford to spice up your Christmas cheer? Both appear as characters in Sheila Callaghan's Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), a play that takes place at Christmas but may not fit the traditional notion of a Christmas play. Eleven-year-old Janice and her mother, Clara, are still trying to cope with the death of Janice's dad in an unfortunate holiday-decorating mishap the previous year, and their only tidings of comfort and joy come from Timberlake and Ford, who appear to Janice and her mom, respectively, in visitations that would do Jacob Marley proud. But even the combined energies of the supernatural superstars can't stop the family's apartment – personified as a feeling, talking character that's embittered by the lack of care it's been receiving – from plotting its inhabitants' murder.
Not exactly the Cratchits around the hearth and "God bless us every one."
No, notes Bastion Carboni, artistic director for Poison Apple Initiative, which is producing the local premiere of Crumble. "The only real parallels between this show and A Christmas Carol are that both involve misdirected energy, 'best laid plans,' and ghosts." However, he adds, "if Christmas means familial difficulty, bittersweet nostalgia, and reminders of disillusionment to you," then it's fair to consider this a "Christmas play." "It's a Christmas show for the rest of us."
Carboni happened upon the play accidentally "while looking for plays by Carson Kreitzer and doing research on Clubbed Thumb, where the play premiered. I was sort of turned off by the first couple of pages, but I was in my whole 'give it another shot, it worked out when you reread Suzan Lori-Parks' phase and picked it back up. I thought it was just pointlessly and self-indulgently weird, and it's not; it's one of the most gorgeous, economical plays I've ever read, and every oddity in the piece has its place. It's a messy, penetrating, and hilarious shock."
So it's a show for people seeking alternatives to the standard Christmas theatre fare? Carboni laughs. "Oh, absolutely. It's got swears."