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A CurtainUp Review
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues
By Les Gutman
There was an article in the news this past week about a recent furor in the town of Kensington, Maryland (population: 1,800). It seems the city elders have banned Santa Claus because of "diversity" issues. A subsequent news report suggested the ban may be lifted. Before making a final decision on this important issue, perhaps the town council should be required to take in The Eight, in which playwright Jeff Goode uncovers important new dirt in "fatboy".
It's not the story parents are likely to want to hear before watching Santa smiling as their little boys and girls bounce up and down on his lap, and it's certainly not a story for the kiddies. Bottom line: Santa is a pervert, he has an unnatural relationship with Rudolph and when the latter witnesses Santa's rape of Vixen, the red-nosed reindeer gets sequestered in a padded cell.
In this reprise of adobe theatre's 1995 production, the lid pops off the scandal, and it's all over the news. (Steven Capone's ornament and fake-snow filled set features a television set proscenium.) No matter what channel the set is turned to, some reindeer is telling his or her side of the story.
Contrary to popular impressions, Santa's reindeer are not a monolithic herd. So we hear from a butch (if defensive) Dasher (Jeremy Brisiel) and a dishy gay Cupid (Frank Ensenberger), a movie-deal obsessed reindeer named Hollywood (Vin Knight). There's also the feminist reindeer Blitzen (Nina Hellman) and a Santa defending Comet (Mather Zickel) as well as the socially-aware Dancer (Kathryn Langwell). After we hear from Donner (Arthur Aulisi) about how Rudolph ended up as he did, the voluptuous Vixen (Erin Quinn Purcell) makes a much-anticipated appearance, and decides against pulling the trigger.
In concept and in execution, The Eight is an interesting if discordant holiday entry. Jeremy Dobrish's direction is attentive, design elements are fun and the confident cast has no difficulty showing us the characters. Where the show falters is in the material, which never quite seems to live up to its potential. Although it has its moments, it's never quite as clever as it ought to be, and eventually becomes predictable and repetitive.
But you'll never again be so complacent about leaving the chimney unguarded at Christmas.
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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