Fun and Dysfunction in ‘Naughty or Nice’

Circle Circle Dot Dot, the innovative troupe that brought us the holiday hit ‘Bearded’ about real mall Santas, brings a sleigh full of new works in the double-bill Naughty or Nice on view at the 10th Avenue Theatre. There’s something for everyone with a range of characters from pointy-eared elf to whip-cracking dominatrix. It closes tonight so grab a friend and go. First, figure out which list you’re on.

Cast of Naughty or Nice. Photo courtesy of

Cast of Naughty or Nice. Photo courtesy of

Two different collections of short plays feature scripts from nine local playwrights. Some aren’t fully realized, others are more complete, but all are outrageous and provocative alternatives to White Christmas and The Nutcracker.

Nice is the early show, all-age -friendly and okay for families. Directed by Patrick Kelly, three mini-plays entice with light holiday themes. After a long interlude, about 90 minutes, audiences can call it a night or return for the second half to see the cast switch gears and sexual partners in R-rated plays.

No surprise, Naughty the later adult show is a bigger draw. San Diego favorite Tony Houck is a highlight in both shows. It’s worth the drive down the 163 to watch him sing the parody “Silver Balls” and bang on an electric keyboard. He takes on several characters, such as the jerk-off son eager to dump his mom in a nursing home, and Mickey the drug-addict rock star in rehab.

Along with Houck, the cast of Naughty or Nice includes: Kevan La’Marr Coleman, Beth Gallagher, Taylor Wycoff, Alexandra Slade, Kristin McReddie, and Rhys Green. They play multiple roles in both collections, such as the gender-bending Aunt Betty who channels Pearl Bailey, and  women that hook up after slamming down too many shots.

There are some dead spots and awkward sexual dialogue. Themes grow dark. A woman explains how she mixed booze and Ativan and speaks from the grave. Still, Naughty or Nice is a cathartic blast of wintry air that makes it easier to deal with real dramas between roommates and families this time of year. Have a good laugh about “marshmallows in shrink wrap.” When the cast starts singing “we’re drinking our way through the holidays,” join in. You’ll laugh and feel better.

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Photo of 10th Avenue Theatre and Arts Centre
10th Avenue Theatre and Arts Centre
Work 930 10th Avenue San Diego CA 92101 USA Work Phone: 619-237-4901
Categories: Dance, Uncategorized, Visual Arts
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Kris Eitland

Kris Eitland covers dance and theater for and freelances for other publications, including the Union Tribune and Dance Teacher Magazine. She grew up performing many dance styles and continued intensive modern dance and choreography at the Univ. of Minnesota, Duluth, and San Diego State Univ. She also holds a journalism degree from SDSU. Her career includes stints in commercial and public radio news production. Eitland has won numerous Excellence in Journalism awards for criticism and reporting from the San Diego Press Club. She has served on the Press Club board since 2011 and is a past president. She is a co-founder of She has a passion for the arts, throwing parties with dancing and singing, and cruising the Pacific in her family's vintage trawler. She trains dogs, skis, and loves seasonal trips to her home state of Minnesota.

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