The Christmas season may have a new favorite holiday character: Pittsburgh Bike Lane.
Feared by some and beloved by others, the bike lane is just one character in “A New Pittsburgh Christmas Carol,” a riff on the holiday classic with the DIY feel of a Christmas pageant — for adults only.
The play, which you can catch Friday and Saturday, is full of local digs and references that would make any yinzer groan: The Ghost of Christmas Past is a steelworker (naturally), Christmas Present is a top 10 list, and the Ghost of Christmas Future looks a lot like … Austin, Texas.
Playwright Dana Leahy, a local comedian, describes herself as a “lady who spent too much time reading the comments on Mayor Peduto’s Facebook page and then wrote a play about it.”
The result is current events baked into Leahy’s plot — in the spirit of John Oliver or “The Daily Show” — with a warning at the beginning of the show: “Everything that happens in this play is like the speed limit on Bigelow Blvd. … IMAGINARY.” Leahy described the show like this:
…A New Pittsburgh Christmas Carol explores the rapidly changing landscape of our gentrifying city. Uberneezer Scroober is the latest in a long line of bloodsucking corporate goons looking to profit off the backs of Pittsburghers, but first he needs to learn some lessons from the city’s past and triumph over the infighting between yinzers who long to Keep Pittsburgh Sh#%@y and people who use avocado toast as currency.
The Post-Gazette comments section come to life live on stage, A New Pittsburgh Christmas Carol is sure to have you either rolling in the aisles or using them to storm out of the theater. Will anyone open a craft brewery? Will late stage capitalism be the end of Tiny Tim? Did anyone ever find that dumpster floating down Route 51 or is it now off on some sort of Homeward Bound-esque adventure with a capricious recycling bin trying to make its way back to Pittsburgh? WHO KNOWS!
“It’s a broad satire that doesn’t attempt to make any serious contributions,” said Leahy, 36, of Morningside.
She knows there are important conversations to be had about issues like gentrification, but she says she’s not qualified to comment on those. Instead, her play pokes fun at Pittsburgh’s unwillingness to change, in the way that people poke fun at their own dysfunctional family.
“You can talk about it and make fun of it, but no one else can,” she said, adding that the performance is a bunch of Pittsburghers coming together to poke fun at themselves, but that same group would band together if Cleveland tried the same jokes.
Leahy, herself, moved to Pittsburgh about four years ago and resolved to pay more attention to local government and local news. “The first thing that stood out to me was that people hated the bike lanes … Every conversation came back to the bike lanes,” she told The Incline.
So while this is the first full play she’s written, she’s been mulling over the idea of a Pittsburgh-themed Christmas pageant for a while, taking notes on her phone and bookmarking ideas.
And as far as the Pittsburgh Bike Lane goes, Leahy plays that character herself. It’s largely a silent participant that comes and goes as other characters talk about it, because just like in real life, many conversations drift back to bike lanes, she said. (You can even follow Pittsburgh Bike Lane on Instagram for sick burns like, “A very happy holiday to everyone, especially people from Washington County who complain about me on the mayor’s Facebook page!”)
But, there is a moment in the play where the bike lane can’t take being talked about anymore and shares its feelings through song.
“All the bike lane wants to do is be good and help people get around town,” she said.
“A New Pittsburgh Christmas Carol” premieres at 8 p.m. Friday at The Glitterbox Theater in Oakland. Additional shows are 10 p.m. Friday and 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 and available at the door or online.