First off: Though these may have candy-sweet titles, little ones are not invited. "The Night Before Christmas" from The Furious Theatre Company and a collection of traditional tales -- think "Little Red Riding Hood" -- done untraditionally from The Grand Guignolers (blood is promised) were fashioned with adults in mind.
Think of it as whimsy done weirdly: "The Night Before Christmas" has a charming name, yes, plus sexual overtones, menacing miscreants, Christmas-time crime, a prostitute, the in-demand toy for the holidays, and an elf. Maybe Grandpa wouldn't want to see this -- or maybe he would? -- but pretty much anyone who relishes an offbeat take on tales told over and over will get into the funny-and-oh-so-wrong hijinks. Note: Catch this fast, as the final weekend approaches.
Then there's Red, as in the gal with the famous hood. The Grand Guignolers -- a collective that honors Grand Guignol, the beautifully macabre form of theater popular in Paris back in the day -- take on the wolf-ish story, as well as "Rapunzel" (as in "let down your golden hair," that Rapunzel) told by finger puppets, and told in such a way that even the over-18 set might break into a blush. Kids, stay home. Mom and Dad are off to watch "Hansel & Gretel: A Horror Play," in addition to "Rapunzel" and Miss Red. And sip absinthe. Wheee!
"The Night Before Christmas"
The Carrie Hamilton Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse
Through December 20
39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena
"Little Red Riding Hood" and more tales from The Grand Guignolers
Fridays and Saturday through January 10 (plus two Thursdays and two Sundays; see site for further details), 8:30PM
Art/Works Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles