The more the merrier, especially at Christmas — except, perhaps, in Brevard Little Theatre’s world premiere of In The Workshop, in which a beleaguered Santa finds himself confronted with labor problems from a disgruntled mob of elves. Meanwhile, his wife, Mrs. Kitty Claus, decides she’s tired of the arctic temperatures and wants to leave the North Pole for points south. As toy deliveries for children around the world are threatened while elves confer with union organizers, a suave representative from a toy vendors’ organization arrives to agitate for more modern workshop-efficiency standards.
It sounds like a revisitation of socialist theater of the 1930s, but it’s not — the play is presented as a comedy and was choreographed with eager community spirit: the bulk of the cast are local children playing the restive elves, opposite three adult roles. There’s an elf who’s running for shop steward, one whose job is to spot and eliminate unreasonable gift requests, a Naughty Elf who manages a list of defiant children and his opposite, the Nice Elf. There’s even a Robot Elf. (The casting call appealed to “Assorted Elves of any size, gender and number.” The play is directed by BLT’s patient Theresa Cox.)
In the Workshop was written by Annette Hobbs — it’s her debut — and John Brooks, who first met ten years ago and who had previously co-directed other productions for the theater, including a well-received version of Annie in 2011. “I looked to John as my director mentor,” says Hobbs. (Tragically, John Brooks died of injuries suffered in a car accident in February 2016.)
“John asked me to write with him,” says Hobbs. “He pointed out that there were so few Christmas plays that many were being redone year after year, but when we looked for a fresh one there were just not that many to choose from.”
Their own creation is rife with one-liners — “our intel is that there’s a group in the mountains saying they plan to shoot you the next time you break and enter through their chimneys,” poor Santa is informed — as well as oblique social commentary that anyone can appreciate: “I am easily programmed to perform any manufacturing task that does not require imagination,” says the Robot Elf. Luckily, Hobbs and Brooks provide enough of that for all.
In The Workshop will be presented Thursday through Saturday, December 7, 8, and 9 at 7:30pm and on Sunday, December 10, at 3pm at Brevard Little Theatre (55 East Jordan St.). For tickets or more information, visit thebrevardlittletheatre.org or call 828-884-2587.