Horizon Theatre is presenting Larry Larsen and Eddie Levi Lee’s “Waffle Palace Christmas,” a comedy with music directed by Lisa Adler, running through December 30.
The show is a continuation of its 2013 hit“The Waffle Palace,” which was a revival of the 2012 summer show “The Waffle Palace—Smothered, Covered, and Scattered.” Got all that? There will be a quiz shortly (kidding).
All these shows are a part of Horizon’s New South Play Festival, a program to create plays about the community and the contemporary South.
The most startling aspect of the current show is the return of a mischievous character called Krampus (Rob Cleveland), a dark, anti-Santa who’s been newly-energized to wreak havoc. He may be Old Scratch himself, but if he is, he’s rather bumbling—which adds to the fun.
The location is a Mid-town Atlanta Waffle House (here “Palace); incidentally, the real Waffle House is one of the show’s sponsors—appropriate, no?
The owners are now Connie and John (Marguerite Hannah and Barry Stoltze); former waitress Esperanza (Maria Rodriguez-Sager) and her new husband Hugo (Allan Edwards, who plays about four roles) pop back into the scene. There is also Tooty (Lala Cochran, who plays three roles) and a rather mysterious young woman named Alex (Jennifer Alice Acker), who visits the restaurant daily to sample everything she can and keeps careful records on her laptop.
Markell Williams plays two roles and has a few mysteries of his own. In fact, this edition of the “Waffle Palace” features several “unmaskings,” shall we say; you’ll have to see the show to discover who’s really who.
We have a talented cast; plus a fine set by Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay, music by Christian Magby, and lighting by Mary Parker. What is more problematic is the show itself: Even though we know it’s a down-home, cornpone sort of ambience, some of the dialogue borders on the ridiculous, with lines like, “I was just shooting the bull; sometimes you shoot the bull and sometimes it shoots you” or “A Waffle Palace divided against itself cannot stand.”
At the 2013 “Waffle Palace” show, artistic director Lisa Adler herself wryly noted, in a pre-curtain speech, that “The show is not an intellectual exercise, nor is it intended to be.” She spoke the truth, especially about this year’s first act, which is quite slow and full of non sequiturs.
The show is rescued by two things: the bright and valiant talent of its actors (like Ms. Acker, for instance, who’s always interesting to watch, or Mr. Cleveland) and the gaiety of the season, which is upon us, like it or not. So if you “relax and sink into it,” as Martha said in “Virginia Woolf,” you can have a good time, especially as things perk up in Act II.
“Waffle House Christmas” is a show for Horizon’s hometown fans, and there are a lot of them: the show I saw appeared sold-out. Just remember—if you join the shenanigans, don’t even think about ordering pancakes—that is a major, cosmic no-no.
For tickets and information, visit horizontheatre.com.