One dose of "Greetings" is more than enough

’Tis the season for rehashes of all the usual holiday offerings: the Alliance’s “A Christmas Carol,” Theatre in the Square’s “Sanders Family Christmas,” Horizon’s “The Santaland Diaries,” etc. Ho-ho-ho-hum.

It’s not often that you look to the suburban Stage Door Players for an unconventional alternative to the work being done at the bigger theaters in town. The best to be said for its production of “Greetings” is that we haven’t seen the show before. The worst to be said is that seeing it once is more than enough, because it isn’t very freshly written or performed.

Tom Dudzick’s strictly routine comedy involves a New York yuppie named Andy Gorski (Chad Martin), who’s heading home to Pittsburgh for the holidays to introduce the family to his new fiancée, Randi (Amanda Cucher). Complications are bound to develop, inasmuch as the Gorskis are devout Catholics and Randi is a “Jewish atheist” (and, possibly worse, an aspiring actress).

Andy’s father, Phil (Rial Ellsworth), is a narrow-minded, mobility-impaired old grouch. His mother, Emily (Holly Stevenson), is a scatterbrained, hearing-impaired June Cleaver type. His energetic younger brother, Mickey (Doug Graham), is mentally impaired and barely speaks, before a contrived turn of events finds him periodically possessed by the spirit of an erudite philosopher named Lucius, spouting a lot of “cosmic rigmarole” with a pronounced British accent.

Director David Crowe’s lethargic pacing only exacerbates the tedium. Moreover, given the play’s built-in running gag about electrical problems in the house, you’d think he and lighting designer John David Williams could have made a better effort to signal the transitions between reality (with Graham as Mickey) and fantasy (with Graham as Lucius).

In the lackluster performances of Cucher, Ellsworth and Stevenson, there’s nothing necessarily eccentric or ingratiating about their characters to grab or hold our interest in them. For his part, Martin makes an agreeable protagonist, at least until he basically fades into the scenery, reduced to playing straight man/second fiddle to Graham, who is serviceable in those flashier dual roles.

Whether Mickey’s condition is a psychological disorder or some kind of a “miracle” is open to spiritual debates that don’t blend well with Dudzick’s otherwise whimsical premise. Either way, it’s inadvertently telling to hear poor Andy talk about how the holiday season seems to be missing a “delicious sense of mystery and wonder.”

Theater review


Grade: C

Through Dec. 18. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. $12-$26. Stage Door Players (North DeKalb Cultural Center), 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. 770-396-1726.

Bottom line: Bah humbug.