With all due respect to the myriad incarnations of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol playing out across the Hamptons, we’ve long had on our wish list a new entry into the Christmas performance canon. Something nostalgic but with some timely edge, something witty but not wacky. And Santa delivered. Early, even. The package is signed Kurt Vonnegut Jr., who spent many years living in Sagaponack and, although he passed away in 2007, revisits the East End this holiday season via While Mortals Sleep: A Vonnegut Christmas Tale at Guild Hall in East Hampton.
Make sure you send a thank-you note to actor cum playwright Matthew Burnett, the man behind While Mortals Sleep: A Vonnegut Christmas Tale, for this mash-up, if you will, of the stories “While Mortals Sleep” and “Ed Luby’s Key Club” from Vonnegut’s posthumous short-works collection While Mortals Sleep. The new play showcases a side of Vonnegut that may come as something of a pleasant, poignant surprise to anyone still under the misconception that the writer was all about sci-fi.
It’s upstate New York, 1953, and local newspaperman Fred Hackleman has been sucked into judging the local Christmas decoration competition. As While Mortals Sleep: A Vonnegut Christmas Tale unfolds, in the play’s creators’ words, “what ensues includes a hardened criminal, an unsuspecting middle-aged couple, murder, manhunt and garish lawn ornaments.” Now that says Happy Holidays!
Guild Hall and the Naked Stage present While Mortals Sleep: A Vonnegut Christmas Tale on Tuesday, December 13, at 7:30 p.m.