Christmas Tree grows into success
Louis B. Hobson. Calgary Sun
Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lunchbox Theatre's The Christmas Tree is the kind of light-hearted comedy that puts the merry in Merry Christmas. Written especially for Lunchbox by Canada's master of mirth, Norm Foster, The Christmas Tree brings a pair of strangers to a lonely tree lot on Christmas Eve. There's only one anemic, little tree left but Daniel (Chris Hunt) and Sonja (Heather Lea MacCallum ) engage in a duel to see who will drag it home. Their weapons of choice are heart-wrenching stories of why each deserves the tree more than the other. No one is fooled by the tales of woe, least of all the audience members who erupt into spontaneous laughter that runs the gamut from derision to approval.

Foster is a keen observer of human nature which ensures there's as much intelligence as there is wit in his play. A self-styled Casanova, Daniel hopes he might warm up his apartment with more than the tree if he plays his cards right. The problem is he uses all the wrong moves, but Hunt makes him such a likable lout, you keep hoping he'll succeed despite his clumsy efforts. Sonja's defence is to stop Daniel cold in his tracks which MacCallum does by coating her rebuttles and remarks in biting sarcasm.

In the hands of lesser actors this verbal jousting could be off putting, but Hunt and MacCallum make it an escalating delight. Director Martin Fishman stages The Christmas Tree like a chess match in Sandi Somers' simple but effective set.

4 OUT OF 5

Heather Lea MacCallum and Christopher Hunt in The Christmas Tree