Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge
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Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge is a musical parody of the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol. Written by Christopher Durang, the play was initially commissioned by City Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when Durang was asked by Artistic Director Tracy Brigden to write a Christmas comedy. It premiered on November 7, 2002.
The premise of the parody is the question, "What if Dickens' Mrs. Cratchit wasn't so goody-goody, but instead was an angry, stressed-out modern-day American woman who wanted out of this harsh London 1840s life?" The main character in Binge is the hard-drinking, suicidal Gladys Cratchit, whose harshness to her family surpasses Mommie Dearest by a mile. The other two leads are The Ghost and Ebenezer Scrooge. The Ghost, whose character is written to be an African-American woman, plays the narrator role as she escorts Ebenezer Scrooge through the past, present and future of his life. But, as she says, everything keeps going "kaplooey" because she can't get her magic to work properly. In their first journey, the Ghost tries to take Scrooge to his past at the Fezziwig Christmas party, but they end up at the Cratchits' home in the present, where we meet Mrs. Cratchit and her eternally hungry yet eternally sunny children, all 21 of them. The majority of the 21 live in "a bunch in the root cellar."
Most of the characters retain their original Dickensian qualities. Ebenezer Scrooge is old and miserly. Bob Cratchit is the gentle family man who is the primary target of Scrooge's cheapness. Tiny Tim is crippled and heart-rending. Equally heart-rending is Little Nell from Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, who appears as one of the Cratchit children. In typical Durang style, these qualities are heightened and shaded dark (not to blackness this time, just to blueness) to give it his brand of comic tone.
Durang adds many classic allusions and pop-culture references to the story, including scenes where the Ghost accidentally takes Scrooge to the lives of Oliver Twist and Leona Helmsley. The play also makes stops in It's a Wonderful Life, the Enron scandal, The Gift of the Magi, and Touched by an Angel.
There are four original songs in Binge, lyrics by Durang and music by Michael Friedman.
- "It's Nearly Christmas", Act One, Scene 1
- "Fezziwig Song", Act One, Scene 6
- "Yummy Yum Yum", Act One, Scene 9
- "Finale", Act Two, Scene 13