Charles Dickens most likely never imagined how raunchy and randy a turn an improvisational theater troupe could give his Christmas classic.
Improv Acadia, based in Bar Harbor, has joined forces with Penobscot Theatre Company to present “A Kick in Your Dickens: An Improvised Holiday Shenanigan” at PTC’s 40-seat theater at 51 Main Street in Bangor.
Dickens probably should have had a clue that his redemptive holiday story could be sliced and diced by a performing troupe since improvisational theater dates back to Ancient Rome. It wasn’t until this year that Improv Acadia decided to take on “A Christmas Carol” during its off-season.
While the troupe offers a “family friendly show” in the summer months, the 8 p.m. “Dickens” show Saturday night was anything but.
It also was absolutely hilarious.
Jennifer Shepard and Mike Shreeman play all the parts in the production. The plot roughly follows the outline of “A Christmas Carol” but uses names and other information supplied by the audience. Instead of London, the story on Saturday took place in Bangor and the Scrooge character, whose name included a portion of the male genitalia, owned coal mines. In subsequent shows, all of that will be different because there will be different people in the seats.
The actors use an array of hats, scarves, vests and wigs to portray Scrooge’s employees, his former business partner, Marley, and the ghosts who visit him. They also use the names of Bangor drinking establishments and nearby communities as part of the story.
Shepard is delightfully fast on her feet in switching from one character to another, complete with changes in accents. After 16 years at Improv Acadia, she is deftly skilled at reading an audience and turning its ideas into comedy.
Shreeman, who is based in Chicago, is almost as quick on the draw as Shepard is. Scrooge’s alter ego is the character he plays most often. He and Shepard are an engaging duo who verbally dance as if performing the frantically paced tarantella on stage.
Larrance Fingerhut, who owns Improv Acadia with Shepard, supplies the music, which allows the actors to improvise a song or two that move the action along to the “God Bless Us Everyone” finale.
Audiences are embracing PTC and Improv Acadia’s decision to offer adult fare this holiday season, as several performances of “A Kick in Your Dickens” have sold out.
It is a delightfully wicked addition to Bangor’s holiday performance offerings.
“A Kick in Your Dickens: An Improvised Holiday Shenanigan” will be performed through Dec. 29 at Penobscot Theatre Company’s alternative performance space at 51 Main Street in Bangor. For information, call 942-3333 or visit penobscottheatre.org.