At this special time of year, it's tempting to turn to the inspirational stories of Ebenezer Scrooge, George Bailey and other yuletide icons of goodwill. But why bother, when you can head over to "Bob's Holiday Office Party" instead?
"Just relax and pretend that we're all friends," says Sheriff Joe Walker (Joe Keyes) to the motley denizens of Neuterburg, Iowa, as they gather to celebrate the season in the office of insurance agent Bob Finhead (Rob Elk). It's sage advice in a place where everyone knows your name -- and everything else about you since the day you were born.
Now in its eighth year, this devastatingly funny portrait of small-town Americana at its tackiest has become even more potent with age. Conceived by Elk and Keyes and developed through improv by a talented ensemble of their fellow Midwest refugees, this take-no-prisoners parody has grown sharper since playwright Justin Tanner assumed the director's helm last year.
A few new jokes and topical updates notwithstanding, the broad contours of the piece haven't changed.
Bob, a soft touch who backdates his friends' policies and adds alien abduction riders on request, still pines for a bigger life in Des Moines. He can't quite bring himself to end his affair with Margie (Andrea Hutchman), the mayor's hygiene-obsessed wife.