So I'm on the board of my local community theater, and specifically on the "programming committee", which means that I get to help decide the upcoming seasons. So we're reading plays. Lots of them. Some of them are good. Some of them are not so good.
In that later category, I'm gonna have to add "The Christmas Schooner", which, as you'll never guess, is about a boat during Christmas. Now close your eyes and imagine yourself in the late 19th century. A family of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation German immigrants is trying to adjust to the American lifestyle. They long for "ein Tannenbaum", and the safe return home of the father figure from his possibly ill-fated voyage to return freshly cut evergreens to the good people of Chicago. If this sounds potentially interesting, just wait! Imagine all that, an intriguing and possibly heartwarming premise, a neglected historical demographic, and songs! Songs about Christmas! What could possibly go wrong?
Well... for starters: What if over half of those songs sounded like Irish funeral dirges? What if the only "joke" in the show was "How can a sailor's nose tell him the weather?... When it's wet, it's raining!" Bad-a-bump! (followed by the sounds of crickets). The show is so unbelievably goddamn earnest it makes me want to roll around in the mud. I mean, maybe I'm missing something (I notoriously am not a fan of musicals), but our Theater Director highly recommended the script and he's not the only one who liked it.
But I think the thing I hate about it, (and believe me, I can make you a list) is that it's obvious that it was written by someone with the same sense of humor as a door stop. Now, again, I'm not so big on the whole "singin' and dancin'" thing, but when you look back on serious, dramatic good plays, one thing a good playwright knows is that you have to leaven tragedy with comedy. This play takes itself so gosh-durned seriously that at least for this reader/listener, it was impossible to enjoy. Avoid, my friends. Avoid this foul deformity like the maudlin piece of treacle it is.