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Sunday, July 12, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dark side of the holiday on local stages

Every year around this time, there are more local Christmas concerts and plays than you could possibly see in a single season. It’s enough to make your head spin with more than just visions of dancing sugarplums. We’re continuing our coverage of some notable yuletide events, and here are a few of Christmas-themed plays opening Friday on area stages.

“The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge” at Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard St. – Everyone knows that by the end of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the soulless miser Ebenezer Scrooge makes a complete 180 from harrumphing at the holidays to gleefully embracing everything about the season.

It’s one of literature’s most famous and heartwarming turnarounds, but “The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge,” a comic quasi-sequel to Dickens’ most frequently adapted work, imagines a scenario where that Christmas cheer eventually rubs off.

The show opens as Scrooge has hauled the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, as well as the spirit of his former business partner Jacob Marley, off to court, charging them with a litany of transgressions – trespassing, kidnapping, assault and battery, emotional distress. Everyone from Bob Cratchit to the spirits of Scrooge’s youth come out of the woodwork as character witnesses, and the defense attempts to again remind the brute of who he was before he succumbed to bah humbugs.

Written by Mark Brown, “The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge” should serve as a slightly caustic antidote for anyone who’s perhaps a little weary of an oft-told tale. The play, directed by Chris Taylor, has a short run through Dec. 18 in the Civic’s studio theater. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

“The Eight: Reindeer Monologues” at Stage Left Theater, 108 W. Third Ave. – If the stories are to be believed, the only tension that existed among Santa Claus’ reindeer was between Rudolph and, well, all of the others. But according to “The Eight,” a dark, occasionally savage Christmas comedy, that was not the case.

Performed in a minimalist, black box style, Jeff Goode’s envelope-pushing off-Broadway play unfolds as each of Santa’s eight reindeer offer their own perspectives on accusations of sexual harassment being leveled at old Saint Nick. This holiday satire is certainly not for those who are easily offended or looking for bland Christmas cheer, but it’s also more sobering and thoughtful than you might expect in its approach to a delicate issue.

Directed by Tia Wooley for Stage Left, “The Eight” shows at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Also playing: At the Modern Theater Coeur d’Alene, 1320 E. Garden Ave., “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas” continues its run through Dec. 16. The Christmas Truce musical “All Is Calm” runs through Dec. 24 at the Modern Theater Spokane, 174 S. Howard St. “Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” continues on the Civic’s main stage through Dec. 18.

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