After a bit of brawling and a spate of North Pole deaths, after the Candy Cane of the Apocalypse is unsheathed to ward off evil, the lamb with seven horns and seven eyes is borne aloft by a malevolent ghost.

End times? Christmastime? Both, actually, in Greg Kotis’s “The Truth About Santa,” a cheerily warped holiday sendup whose sardonic sense of humor can’t hide its gooey heart — though it would amp up the festivities if this revival, directed by Ilana Becker at the Tank, were less susceptible to sentiment.

Mr. Kotis, a Tony Award winner for the book and lyrics of the satirical “Urinetown,” here unspools an anti-myth of Old Saint Nick as rampaging home wrecker and enslaver of elves. What with his weed habit and ingrained misogyny, and the part where he fathered children with someone other than Mrs. Claus, he is decidedly not the jolly old soul of lore. So this play with music, though it opens with a charming pair of singing elves, is an ill-advised choice for Santa believers.

And in this too-earthbound production, Mr. Kotis’s clever, messy comedy is not as much fun as it might be for the rest of us. It often feels like it could use an enlivening dash of the magic stuff that the Ghost of Christmas Present sprinkles around. Not that he makes an appearance; this show has plenty of spirits as it is.

Presented with Theater of the Apes, a company founded by Mr. Kotis and his wife, Ayun Halliday, “The Truth About Santa” has a family at its center, and a marriage that’s coming apart. The husband in that couple, George (Arthur Aulisi), has just learned from a furious Mrs. Claus (Ms. Halliday) that the daughter and son he’d thought were his are actually Santa spawn.

Mary (Polly Lee), George’s wife — and yes, it’s a good bet that their names are a nod to the Baileys in “It’s a Wonderful Life” — is about to leave him for Santa (David Carl), and she’s taking the kids, Freya (Nina Watson) and Luke (Cy Rowan). Who, by the way, as the offspring of a mortal and an eternal being, are demigods. Luke is able to turn back time, while Freya has a supernatural power so banal that she doesn’t even want to talk about it.

Off Mary and the kids fly to the North Pole, where Mrs. Claus is bent on vengeance, which partly entails forcing an elf named Jo-Jo (Milo Kotis, the 18-year-old son of Greg Kotis and Ms. Halliday) to betray Santa. (A decade ago, Milo Kotis played Luke opposite his sister as Freya and his parents as George and Mary.)

But Mrs. Claus — also an eternal being, born “before Hera and Zeus” — isn’t going anywhere. As she tells Mary, “Our kind doesn’t divorce.” And since the elves are polygamous, Santa doesn’t see why he shouldn’t be, too.

On a tinsel-framed, gift-wrapped set by the brothers Christopher and Justin Swader, scheming and mayhem ensue. Mary and the children flee with an elf named Jim-Jim (Kiet Tai Cao). A ghost appears to George. Things turn deeply weird. Yet this production never gets as loopy as it might.

“It’s not a slow show,” Jo-Jo and Jim-Jim sing in their opening serenade. But it’s never full-throttle, either.

The Truth About Santa

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The Truth About Santa
Through Dec. 20 at the Tank, Manhattan; 212-563-6269, Running time: 1:10.

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