Theater comes down with a serious case of split-personality disorder during the holidays. There are, for those who live for them, a handful of “Nutcrackers,” no fewer than 10 productions of “A Christmas Carol” and scattered occurrences of “Miracle on 34th Street.” (To see them all, go to www.washingtonpost.com/holiday.)
But Santa always manages to deliver a little something for the cynic. Looking for a cure for the tinsel, heartstring-tugging and Tiny Tims? This season is packed with razor-sharp antidotes. Just beware of one common side effect: uncontrollable laughter.
Symptom: Ghost of Christmas Past irritation
Cure: There’s not a ghost to be found in Woolly Mammoth Theatre’s upcoming show, mostly because it aims to kill off just about everyone. “Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies” is an interactive laugh riot from Chicago’s Second City troupe, responsible for the wildly popular “Barack Stars.” For this show — whose very premise is based on the idea that we’re all essentially doomed (you know, a perfect theme at Christmas) — two Washington actors jetted off to Chicago to learn the art of irreverence from Second City pros.
Tuesday-Jan. 8. Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW. 202-393-3939. www.woollymammoth.net. Tickets start at $30; prices vary based on availability. Pay-what-you-can Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Symptom: Sugar Plum Fairy fatigue
Cure: Those who have had their fill of “Nutcrackers” — even the “nutshell” productions — can mix it up with Deviated Theatre’s “Storyteller’s Gala,” hypnotic multidisciplinary dance pieces that incorporate aerial dance, singing and theatrical performance. Shows meld excerpts from a handful of Deviated’s popular pieces, including 2008’s “Aspiro.” The best part: There are no toy soldiers in sight.
Dec. 9-10 at 8 p.m. Joe’s Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Rd., Mount Rainier. 301-699-1819. www.joesmovement.org. $20-$50.
Symptom: Family time flu-ishness
Cure: John Waters’s brilliant mind has twisted Christmas into a mildly porny, always popular celebration of the seamy and unseemly. “A John Waters Christmas”? It’s not your mother’s Christmas show, which makes it the perfect one to see, sans your mother, grandfather and strange cousin Al. The revered Baltimorean visits the Birchmere to perform his touring love letter to holiday weirdness just a few days before Christmas.
Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. 703-549-7500. www.birchmere.com. $45.
Symptom: Mall-related mental breakdown
Cure: There are two chances to see performances of the bitingly deadpan work of onetime holiday hostage David Sedaris, who worked as a Macy’s elf and lived to write about it. At Fort Fringe, City Artistic Partnerships brings in actor Joe Brack to perform Sedaris’s hilarious mall-elf journey of discovery, “The Santaland Diaries.” And Rep Stage in Columbia takes on three of Sedaris’s satirical holiday-themed essays in “Holiday Readings (With Some Surprise Packages).”
“Santaland Diaries,” through Dec. 24. Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave. NW. www.cityartisticpartnerships.org. $20.
“Holiday Readings,” Dec. 16-19. Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. 443-518-1500. www.repstage.org. $15.