December 9, 2014

The parochial school’s blond-pigtailed problem child is a cross between little Rhoda in The Bad Seed and Regan in The Exorcist. To the parish priest, Father O’Day, the cure is obvious. “I must perform an exorcism,” he tells the girl’s mother. “It’s the only conceivable way to save your daughter and my Christmas pageant.” The good news for audiences at The Asphalt Christmas, Todd Michael’s satirical mash-up of old Hollywood movies, Christmas-related and otherwise, is that the exorcism is performed onstage, and the 360-degree head spin is the funniest effect in this seemingly shoestring-budget production. The bad news is that the 90-minute play, directed by Lawrence Lesher at the Lion Theater, falls flat much of the time. Aiming to be madcap, it dashes off in multiple directions. Sometimes this works, as in the strand involving the possessed girl’s mother, Dixie (Mr. Michael), a ’40s-style dame who happens to be a stripper. More often, it doesn’t.