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'Klingon Christmas Carol' Is An Intergalactic Take on Dickens' Classic

By Benjamin Woodard | December 22, 2012 11:11am

EDGEWATER — Klingons aren't pleasant creatures.

The Star Trek aliens drink heavily, fight often and tend to spit when pushing out the glottal sounds of their barbaric language.

But their more compassionate side is on display in Commedia Beauregard's production of "A Klingon Christmas Carol," performed entirely in the Klingon language at the Raven Theatre through the end of December.

The adaption of Charles Dickens' classic novel transforms Ebeneezer Scrooge into Klingon loan collector SQuja', who travels through time alongside three ghosts to redeem his Klingon warrior courage and honor to save the life of tImHom - Dickens' Tiny Tim.

English translations are projected above the stage for those in need of a little help understanding the language from planet Kronos.

Cast members and audience members were particularly honored during the afternoon showing on Dec. 15, when the creator of the Klingon language, Dr. Marc Okrand, sat in the front row.

"It was incredible," said the linguist, who flew in from Washington D.C. to see the show. "The acting was good, the Christmas story — well, it's not so much a Christmas story anymore — but with all kinds of fighting, what could be better?"

Edgewater resident Liz Morath bought tickets for her husband, Grant, to see the Saturday show.

She said they were looking for something "Christmas-y, but not too Christmas-y" to do.

When asked whether he's a fan of Star Trek, Grant Morath said, "Yeah, a little bit," cracking a grin and glancing at his wife.

She was quick to chime in: "He's a Trekkie."

Not only does applying make up and the trademark Klingon forehead ridge take a lot of time, learning the lines of a full-length play in a different language proves difficult for the actors.

The show's director, Eric Van Tassell, said the rehearsal period for the play is much longer compared to other productions of the same length.

Actors work with a language coach and listen to recordings of Klingon pronunciation in between rehearsals to be sure to convince the audience they're truly fluent, he said.

All that work seemed to pay off. The Klingon creator himself said the actors "clearly really got it."

"It's so easy just to learn syllables in some other language and not know what you're saying," he said. "But they must have known because everything was delivered with the right kind of emotion, the right kind of push, the right kind of slowing down at the right moments."

Phil Zimmermann, who plays qeylIS Present (the Ghost of Christmas Present), said having Okrand in the audience was "fantastic."

"When the man who created the language and has lived with it for as long as he has compliments you, it's a huge boost," he said.

"A Klingon Christmas Carol" runs Thursday through Sunday in December at Raven Theatre.