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Funny Tuna Christmas lacks coherence

A Tuna Christmas
Directed by Ed Howard.
Written by Jaston Williams,
Joe Sears, and Ed Howard.
Starring Joe Sears
and Jaston Williams.
Schubert Theater, through Nov. 1.

By Joshua Andresen
Staff Reporter

A Tuna Christmas is an amusing play, but it suffers from its presentation. Sears and Williams deliver hilarious sketches of the 24 residents of Tuna, Texas, but the format resembles a series of disjointed snapshots and lends itself to neither character development nor a coherent plot.

The play is set in Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas. Sears and Williams portray 24 different characters during the course of the play, which involves 47 costume changes in all. The two are entertaining not only with their split-second costume changes, but also with their characterizations of the eccentric Tuna residents. These include Bertha Bumiller, middle-aged mother of three who wonders if her good-for-nothing husband will return for the holiday, and Vera Carp, whose nativity scene includes the Wisemen, Bing Crosby, and Natalie Wood.

A Tuna Christmas is a sequel to Greater Tuna, which was presented in Boston in 1985. All the characters from the first Tuna return, and a few new ones join the scene. The play is presented in brief sketches containing no more than two characters at a time. Though this format is limiting, it is possible for a coherent, smoothly flowing plot to develop from it. In this play, however, it does not. Sears, Williams, and Howard instead seem more intent on focusing on interplay between the various characters.

In this they do not fail. Sears and Williams are hilarious as they change from petulant teenager to animal activist to used gun salesman. The one-liners and humorous allusions come quickly enough to give a delightful final product. One particular effect in the second act had the audience laughing for minutes.

A Tuna Christmas is showing at the Schubert Theater now through November 1. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinees are Thursday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Ticket prices range from $19.50 to $34.50 and $10 student rush tickets are available 30 minutes before all performances except Friday and Saturday evenings.