Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
James Arrington as Aunt Pearl. Arrington's one-man "Farley Family Christmas" is delightful.
FARLEY FAMILY XMAS; Ragan Theater, Sorensen Student Center, UVSC campus, Orem; 7:30 p.m., Dec. 15, 17, 20, 21; 863-8797; Running time: 2 hours, one intermission.

OREM — If you go see "Farley Family Christmas" wearing Christmas colors or if your birthday is close to Christmas, be prepared to be skewered by Aunt Pearl.

She's waiting there with her clip-out coupons and candy canes to reward those who "win" her party contests and she's not a bit shy about teasing people about their look or their hometown with an "Oh, my crud!" or "Oh, my heck!"

And Aunt Pearl is only one of a cast of crazy, somewhat classless but real-life characters who make up the Farley Family — all played by James Arrington in very different but completely convincing voices, faces and postures.

The 99-year-old patriarch of the family is as much a wheezy, old man with bad stories as Eugene is a blase wannabe Eagle Scout in an "Ozone Shmozone" T-shirt.

Some of this is classic Farley Family Reunion material dressed up for the holidays, but there's new stuff, too.

Aunt Viola's stirringly vibrato version of "Oh Holy Night" is a familiar gag as is Heber Farley's weepy, conference-toned emcee gig.

The "Sleigh Ride" organ duet is new and painful but hilarious.

Beatrice's "Treasures from Trash" bit is funny even while you can sense that some in the audience are going to go home and make a tuna can Christmas tree.

Lonnie Jack's "Artsy Fartsy Silent Night" has that down home pickin' quality, and Heber is right on when he says that angels weep when the Farleys sing.

It's all horrible and wonderful.

The trees decorating the set are the worst Christmas trees ever, and the jokes are terribly predictable.

As with Farley Family Reunion, the show starts at such a slow pace, it's easy to wonder what's up and when. Chester pokes about, trying to fix the microphone with duct tape and chewing gum. Heber is trying to get his cumberband cinched up and warning the kids not to eat the popcorn ball Nativity. Parley's busy showing off the bells and whistles of his smart house security system. The dog's trying to get in. Trees are getting knocked over, and the fish tank gets Tasered.

But by the time Aunt Pearl takes over, you're sucked in. The silliness is so dead on, and Arrington is so good that you forget this is really just one guy doing all this.

For a family Christmas season treat, try this. It's different. It's dumb. It's fun.

Just don't expect a tidy stage or any kind of simple restraint.


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