Review: Peterborough Players’ ‘A Tuna Christmas’

  • Kraig Swartz and Tom Frey and Tom Frey and Kraig Swartz in the two-man show “A Tuna Christmas” at the Peterborough Players through Sunday.Courtesy Photos

  • Tom Frey and Kraig Swartz in the two-man show “A Tuna Christmas” at the Peterborough Players through Dec. 15, 2019. —Courtesy Photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/9/2019 5:32:31 PM

The pressures of life are often amplified at this time of year as everyday struggles take on a new level of difficulty due to the holiday season. “A Tuna Christmas”, now playing at the Peterborough Players, draws on this for much of its comedic fodder.

For the residents of the fictitious town of Tuna, Texas the stress of flawed marriages, bickering families and choatic work lives are getting in the way of what we all want – that perfect Christmas. Some are worried they won’t win the Greater Tuna Area Christmas Tree Yard Display Competition for the 15th year in a row, or that they will be sent back to jail – I mean reform school – because they might not be able to comply with their probation if their community service, a local production of “A Christmas Carol”, is canceled. Some are desperate to catch the eye of their local community theater director, others fear they will be found out as being the Christmas Phantom.

Peterborough Players Tom Frey and Kraig Swartz bring this two-man show to life, each taking on 11 of the show’s 22 characters, tackling varying ages and genders. The audience knows the wigs and skirts must be flying backstage since the actors step off stage as one character and reappear seconds later as a new one, but nary a hair is out of place.

While each character and their situation is hilarious in their own way, perhaps the comedic highlight of the show is when Frey and Swartz don pink waitress uniforms and bouffant wigs to become the Tastee Kreme employees Inita and Helen. Just two career women and roommates making their way through the world. And here’s a holiday tip I picked up from them – Did you forget to thaw your restaurant’s hamburger meat on Christmas Eve? Just defrost it quickly with Helen’s hairdryer before your boss can find out and fire you.

Frey and Swartz also anchor the show emotionally with big hearted characters – Bertha and Petey. Bertha is just trying to have a nice family Christmas but is let down by an absent husband and indifferent children. And Petey’s devotion to taking in discarded exotic pets often causes him personal injury.

Both manage to have good Christmases. Petey with his weird family of rescue animals when he gives a Charlie Brown-esque Christmas Special Moment speech under the stars of Texas and Bertha when she takes a small step away from her family and finds a friend and maybe something more.

There’s something for everyone to relate to, laugh at and maybe tear up a little during this heartwarming, chaotic Christmas comedy.

Players’ artistic director Gus Kaikkonen is the director of the show starring Frey (“2 Pianos, 4 Hands”) and Swartz (“Fully Committed”). The holiday comedy was written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard.

“A Tuna Christmas” opened Thursday and runs through Sunday.

Tickets are $43 and are on sale now. Subscriptions and barn door flex passes are available as well as gift certificates.

For more information or tickets go to or call the box office at (603) 924-7585.

Meghan Pierce is an editor at the Monandock Ledger-Transcript. You can re ach her at

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