La Posada Magica, Transplant Theater Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Rooted in the Latin Christmas tradition of community reenactments of Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter, this show has a darker edge than many holiday productions. The young heroine of La Posada Magica, Gracie, takes a supernatural detour from the procession singing of faith and joy, venting her anger at God over the death of her baby brother. (The meaning of occasional dialogue in Spanish can usually be discerned by non-Spanish speakers from the context.)

This promising story, not credited to anyone in the program or press kit, suffers from heavy-handed symbolism and simplistic moralizing. The production’s slow pace only compounds the problem. The blackouts drag, and director James D. Finnerty needs to trim 20 minutes from the opening. Using live music does add to the evening, but the singing slows the show further, and unexpressive recitations by a generally unimpressive cast undermine the script’s lyricism and some opportunities for levity. Finnerty stands out in the ensemble, but his presence onstage explains the absence of any meaningful blocking in many scenes.

This unpolished work might have said something worthy about the true spirit of the season. But as it is, it fails to convey the magic of this teen’s renewal of faith and understanding of Christmas.

–Jenn Goddu