Suffering from sugarplum overload? Too much holiday treacle?
Leslie Jordan's down-and-dirty "Deck Them Halls, Y'all" is an antidote to the cloying sentimentality of the season.
The diminutive actor is best-known for two off-center television roles: Karen Walker's closeted nemesis Beverly Leslie on "Will & Grace," for which he won an Emmy award, and drag queen Brother Boy in "Sordid Lives."
So it should come as no surprise that Jordan's take on Christmas is a little out of the mainstream, as well.
At 70 minutes, the one-man comedy is more a stocking stuffer than a full-on gift, rowdy and raunchy with even a moment or two — perhaps in an inevitable nod to a reflective season — that ring bittersweet.
The affection of the audience toward Jordan, who has sold out several previous Orlando appearances through the years, goes a long way to making the cursing and adult themes more endearing than shocking.
He's like an eccentric Southern relative — one who might embarrass you but will make you laugh while doing it.
It doesn't even matter when Jordan gets something in his eye, pauses in the script to remove a contact lens, licks it and pops it back in his eye.
"I know it's gross," Jordan says with a what-can-you-do shrug. "You don't get this at the movies."
The crowd eats it up.
In the show, Jordan plays three different characters, all Southern, poor and dysfunctional. He opens in drag as an ex-burlesque dancer, now helping raise her 10-year-old grandson, Ronnie Lee.
Full of laughs, the dancing good-time girl is full of homespun expressions such as, "Her fried chicken can make a Pentecostal put on lipstick." Or: "She was so ugly she could back a pack of dogs off a meat truck."
But don't ask her about the holidays: "Lord, God, I hate Christmas," she huffs.
Turns out her eldest daughter ran away on Christmas Eve years ago and hasn't been seen since.
The audience meets the daughter after a startlingly effective onstage transformation by Jordan: amazing what a mullet wig and fake moustache will do.
Yes, moustache. Because the daughter is considering gender-reassignment surgery. A former crystal-meth addict, she relates a Christmas story of trying to score drugs.
Did I mention this was not typical holiday fare?
Her story can't be as unabashedly funny as the stripper-turned-grandma because there's something so pathetic about her situation. But it does give Jordan the chance to impersonate Elvis Presley singing "Blue Christmas."
With Jordan's third and final character, a dollop of true emotion emerges. Jordan plays 10-year-old Ronnie Lee with a mixture of naiveté and that wise-beyond-their-years way children have of spouting phrases they've heard from adults.
"My daddy's people are nothing but trash," Ronnie says knowingly. "That's what Mee-maw always says."
In his previous show "My Life on the Pink Carpet" — which had an off-Broadway run and will open in London's West End in February — Jordan told stories of his own life. Although "Deck Them Halls" is not autobiographical, one suspects that some of Jordan's own childhood emotions have seeped into Ronnie Lee's innocent confusion over his sexual identity.
"I think maybe I should have born a girl," he whispers to the audience in a heartfelt moment.
But things don't stay heavy; there's no preachy message of tolerance here. Just an audience roaring with laughter as Ronnie twirls round and round in his "beautiful party dress, um, I mean choir robe," and sinks in a graceful curtsey to the floor.
Matthew J. Palm can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5038. Read his theater blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/theaterblog and his arts blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/artsblog for more on plays, dance, classical music and visual art.
•What: Leslie Jordan's "Deck Them Halls, Y'all."
•Where: Footlight Theater at Parliament House, 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando.
•When: The show has a virtually sold-out performance at 7:30 p.m. today.
•Tickets: The only option for tickets is to show up at Parliament House in person at 6:30 p.m. today and join a waiting list. Seats, and some standing-room positions, will then be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
•Cost: $40Copyright © 2015, CT Now