OK this was a strange but fun one. It’s an Honorable Life is a parody of the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life set among Klingons. Now that’s an interesting enough idea, but there’s more. The play is performed in the Klingon language. For those who are not fluent in Klingon, the english translation is projected above the stage. Is this show for everyone? No, not really. You have to be familiar with Star Trek and the Klingon way of life at the very least. The more you know about the world of Star Trek TOS and TNG, the more you will get out of the show. Those familiar with It’s a Wonderful Life, The Day the Earth Stood Still, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and other sources will be rewarded with countless easter eggs throughout the show.
The twist on the classic story is that instead of everyone praying for George Bailey to be OK, they are praying for Bailey, Son of Peter, to have an Honorable Death. After Bailey is tricked into accepting a position as teacher to young warriors by Councilor Potter, thus sentencing him to a life away from the battlefield and robbing him of the chance to die gloriously in battle, those around him pray for him to find an honorable death. The pleas are heard by beings from the Q Continuum and they send one of their kind to toy with Bailey for their amusement. We follow Bailey the Klingon and Q as they look back at his life. From a battle against the Federation “Red Shirts” which has fun with the ease which the red shirts die in Star Trek TOS. To Bailey’s wife Mary’s attempt to stage a Christmas Pageant for the humans at a treaty negotiation. And what would have happened had he died as a younger man to his wife and daughter Zuzu. The script was written by Bill Stiteler, Brian Watson-Jones, Tim Uren, and Tim Wick and directed by Jason Kruger. It’s a clever script that occasionally sticks to a joke to long. The parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas outstays it’s welcome a little bit. There is a lot of humor that anyone familiar with holiday classics and pop culture in general will get, but the show is really for fans of Star Trek. You don’t have to speak Klingon, but you will want to have at least noticed that Klingons from TOS and those from the movies onward look different. If that isn’t you, this probably is not the show to see. If you are a fan, it’s a really fun show. The costumes and props are all good enough, the Bat’leth’s (Klingon Weapons) are particularly well done. I also appreciated the prosthetics designed by Bill Hendrick, they are not TV quality, but for a stage show at the Mound Theatre, they were way more than I was expecting.
I was wondering how hard it would be for a cast to learn the entire script for a play in a foreign language. I mean sure some of them might know Klingon but there are 17 cast members, what are the odds they all speak Klingon? Well, it turns out you don’t have to memorize the Klingon dialogue. There were three teleprompters set up along the stage front that the actors could read like cue cards. This is surprisingly effective as the audience spends a lot of time looking up at the projected translation, and I was a ways into the play before I noticed one of the actors reading from the prompter. To be fair most of the actors seem to be using it as reference and perform a lot of the dialogue without reading. I’d liken it to the average SNL skit, it’s obvious at times that they are reading a cue card, but are still able to deliver a performance. It’s a gimmick but it works and makes the show unique.
If you are a Star Trek fan and looking for something fun to do this Holiday season I think you’ll get a kick out of It’s an Honorable Life. I really enjoyed the venue as well, there are movie theatre concessions, popcorn, candy, soda, coffee, beer, wine, and even mixed drinks for sale that you can enjoy during the show. The productions runs through December 19th, for more information and to purchase tickets go to It’s an Honorable Life.