Review: ‘On an Open Fire’ at B Street Theatre
On an Open Fire
Each year, Buck Busfield of B Street Theatre pens an original holiday play. This year’s offering is On an Open Fire, a humorous, off-kilter look at a perennial problem: What and when to tell a kid the truth about Santa Claus.
Kellie and Dan (Tara Sissom and Hunter Hoffman, respectively) are parents of second grader Max (who remains unseen through the play). Dan believes the boy is ready to hear the “truth.” Kellie, who cherishes the innocence of his youth and wants to preserve it as long as possible, says it’s too soon.
This family disagreement comes in the midst of Dan’s run for local drain commissioner, a campaign directed by Kellie’s sister Liz (Stephanie Altholz), who inadvertently lets the Claus cat out of the bag. Trouble ensues at home, in the campaign and at Max’s school, when he reveals his secret.
The plot line is more common than many of Busfield’s holiday tales, but it has its own quirks, including the character of Max’s teacher, a freaky guy who travels with a hamster named John Winston (after John Lennon) on his shoulder—until he loses him at Max’s house.
The acting is delightfully wacky, and playwright Busfield also directs, so he knows where the thing is going at all times. The only disappointing thing here is the end. The play goes on too long, missing a couple of good potential endings in favor of a sweet, conventional conclusion.