Play offers fresh, modern take on a family Christmas

Every Christmas season Lunchbox Theatre produces a show for the holidays. This year the company is showcasing the comedy “Last Christmas,” written by Neil Fleming, a playwright from Calgary.

“Last Christmas” is a heart-warming comedy about a dysfunctional family Christmas which involves Grandpa getting into medicinal marijuana with his grandson, sending his daughters over the edge, the company’s website said.

“Hopefully audience members will give thought to their own family and their own situation,” Fleming said.

The inspiration for the play originated when Fleming and Pamela Halstead, artistic director of Lunchbox Theatre and director of “Last Christmas,” were bouncing anecdotes back and forth from their own family holiday experiences.

Fleming said it was challenging to take these experiences and twist them so his own family members would not recognize specific situations presented in the play as being their own.

One situation in particular was a practical joke, he said, that involved moving the camel from the Christmas nativity scene onto the roof of the stable.

Fleming said the camel incident happened while he was growing up just to get a rise out of his mother.

“Last Christmas” is different from the usual Christmas play. It taps into situations that may have happened in our own homes. Photo: Donella SwanIt is because of these real life situations that the play is a fresh modern take on the traditional family Christmas.

There is conflict. There is laughter. There is the sense of what a true family Christmas is all about and audience members should have no problem relating to situations that are presented in the play.

Tim Koetting, who plays the Grandpa, learned not to sweat the small stuff while he worked on the play. As his character’s time comes to an end in the play, he wants to leave his family knowing that life is short and the time spent together is important.

This is the fourth play that Fleming has written for the Lunchbox Theatre. “Last Christmas” was chosen because of its fresh, modern take on the family Christmas and although there is marijuana involved, Halstead said she believes audience members should not be offended as it is tastefully handled.

“This is a play primarily for a late teenage and adult audience,” Halstead said.

“Last Christmas” premieres Nov. 28 and runs until Dec. 23 at Lunchbox Theatre located downtown Calgary. For more information and tickets visit lunchboxtheatre.com.

dswan@cjournal.ca