Lay aside all previous notions of A Christmas Carol, as the Q Brothers serve up this chestnut with sauce that goes from sappy to sassy in three and a half seconds. You know the story: tightwad Ebenezer Scrooge gets served by three spirits on Christmas Eve, and his scrupulous adherence to the worst principles of capitalism fall like scales from his benighted eyes. Though money is deemed trivial in the schemes of family, friendship, and love, it also comes out a bit of a hero: a fat tip for a frisky fellow, a turkey leg for Tiny Tim. Add in the hip-hop theater artists the Q Brothers, who, with a crew of game and gallant mates, retell the old favorite with so much wit and such fun beats that you might forget the story has a moral. The genius of their work is a killer combination of in-depth literary investigation, multifarious musical skills, serious acting chops, and the zest for invention that forms the essence of theater—even at Chicago Shakespeare's The Yard, the production retains the scrappy edge of store-bought holiday lights and dollar beauty wigs (it is also inclusive: menorahs top the wreathed pillars).
The Q Brothers Collective—GQ, JQ, Jackson Doran, and Postell Pringle, joined by John Hoogenakker as Scrooge (Jason Grimm takes over the role December 12) and DJ Kieran Pereira—are chameleons who toss on personae like ermines and strip them off again like Vegas professionals. Highlights include Pringle's strobelight turn as both Bob and Martha Cratchit and JQ as everyone, especially a gymnastically gifted Lil' Tim. v