REVIEW WRITTEN BY NOAH BURD
For 21st Century Media
With Dec. 25 drawing nearer and the inevitable panic of the approaching holiday apparent with each shopping mall traffic jam, DCP Theatre’s Family Theatre series presents its take on the classic Christmas tale, “The Gift of the Magi.” The comic little play tells the story of a young couple — Jim and Della — as they struggle to purchase Christmas gifts for each other despite their relative poverty. At once a cautionary tale against materialism and a celebration of love, “The Gift of the Magi” is a story for anybody who has ever had trouble shopping for somebody they care about.
The production crew is on top of their game here. The set design features fully decorated interiors of two houses at opposite ends of the real estate market along with a row of shops perfectly capturing the New York boutiques of more than a century ago. The Christmas carolers are the real star of the show here. With their rich harmonies and turn-of-the-twentieth-century garb, the rich tableaus they create while milling about the stage make for a warm and nostalgic feel.
The dialog itself is also fun. There are jokes peppered throughout of the variety that are more likely to make you smile than laugh. Madison Hart and Dylan Jeronis, who play the leads, are quite clearly affectionate towards each other, tenderly touching and joking even in their most trying moments. They discuss their hardships with grace and charm. Their relationship seems almost too perfect, but if you’re a sucker for sentimentality, you won’t mind at all.
The script doesn’t have a whole lot of conflict. O. Henry’s original short story, on which the play is based, takes all of five minutes to read. In expanding the action to fill an hour-long production, playwright Jon Jory does little to elaborate on the fairly straightforward story. Characters do refer to their financial hardships and an to economy on the fritz, details which would certainly resonate with today’s audiences if developed beyond the odd line here or there. Any possible subtlety is lost in a “love conquers all” narrative. As a result, the story contains a message that is much more gentle than the toothier social commentary of, say, “A Christmas Carol.”
In the end, brevity is another one of the show’s virtues. Running only an hour, “The Gift of the Magi” is a pleasant way to spend some time with the family and get into the Christmas spirit. I saw the show in the afternoon, on a day with particularly crummy weather, which felt like the right way to see it. Fans of Christmas music will especially enjoy the choral arrangements presented here. With its short running time and beautiful singing, “The Gift of the Magi” offers a pleasant yuletide diversion that won’t challenge the attention-span of any youngsters in the audience.
IF YOU GO
What: “The Gift of the Magi”
Where: DCP Theatre, 795 Ridge Road, Lower Salford.
When: Through Dec. 14.
Tickets: Admission is $10.
Info.: For more information, check www.dcptheatre.com or call (215)234-0966.