Tinsel, carols and presents normally signal the start of the silly season.
But director Benjamin Henson is putting a whole new spin on the usual festivities in An Awkward Family Christmas showing at the Herald Theatre until December 1.
''It is like Family Guy meets Home Alone meets Earth Girls Are Easy - a crazy madcap show that is the perfect distraction from all of the trials of the festive period,'' Mr Henson says.
Inspired by the thousands of awkward family photographs available online, the show is designed to make audience members laugh and cringe in equal measure.
Response so far to the evening's awkward festive fare has been one of amazement, repulsion and delight, he says.
''The play is a raucous farce that isn't afraid to go to some dark, dark places. After all, nothing can bring out the worst in us more than being trapped with your family for an entire day, giving out gifts and pretending to like each other.''
Actor Chris Tempest says ultimately the show is about a family coming together at Christmas but the cast of dysfunctional characters are guaranteed to make your family seem normal.
''The play is like being smashed in the face with a festive brick causing Christmas cheer to flood from your nose,'' he says.
The Shortland Street actor's own awkward festive moment came about after some over-enthusiastic tinkering with a camera during his first Christmas with his partner's family.
''It would be the last time they celebrated the holiday due to their rapidly evolving disgust for 'the consumer driven celebration of a man that never existed'. An extensive photographic record was taking place to archive the 'last Christmas'.
''I was having a play with the settings and pushed one button too many and in that instant I deleted Christmas - all 234 precious memories of it.''
Having to break the news to the family was bad enough but the really awkward part came when someone suggested they re-create the key events of the day, he says.
An Awkward Family Christmas is showing until December 1 at the Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre.
Go to the-edge.co.nz or phone 357 3355 for tickets.
- Auckland City Harbour News
Are our classrooms becoming overcrowded?