Short Stories Live! A Rogue's Christmas

How can one simultaneously be on a diet yet endure an orgy of holiday-party feasting to please one's family? Would a polite "No thanks" lead to a Christmas Day spat with a rich relation from whom you hope to borrow some money? That's the dilemma faced by meek, double-chinned Egbert Mulliner in the holiday story "Another Christmas Carol" by P.G. Wodehouse. And though that story is 41 years old (first published in Playboy, of all places, and there's no sex in it), we can all relate to the social minefield of picky eaters and potential arguments when families gather. (Shut up, vegans, and go forage in the yard for some turnips if you don't like what's being served!) Wodehouse will be represented today alongside Damon Runyon, John Cheever, and other authors in Short Stories Live! A Rogue's Christmas, with professional stage talent from ACT and other theaters reading the seasonal texts. Unfortunately, when it comes to Egbert's dietary fortitude, he's no role model for those tempted to holiday gluttony. Only when the hors d'oeuvres plate is already empty, before he can graze, does he feel "a reverse strength" in declining what's not actually there. BRIAN MILLER

Sun., Dec. 18, 4 p.m., 2011

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