Tulsa World - December 10, 2003

Santa's legal suit

By MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer, 12/10/2003

Dasher, played by Scott Heberling, is the bad boy reindeer in the Nightingale Theater production of "Eight: The Reindeer Monologues." DAVID CRENSHAW / Tulsa World

'Eight: The Reindeer Monologues' exposes lurid sex scandal at the North Pole

Admit it: You've wondered what Santa was doing up there at the North Pole the other 364 days of the year.
According to Nightingale Theater's production of "Eight: The Reindeer Monologues," Santa's got a brand new bag, and it's not full of cheer.
In playwright Jeff Goode's pitch-black Christmas comedy, scandal breaks out at the North Pole when one of those eight tiny reindeer -- Vixen, of course -- accuses the big man of sexual harassment.
It seems the jolly old soul has a hard time understanding that when a doe says no, she means no.
John Cruncleton, co-founder of Tulsa's avant-garde Nightingale Theater and director of "Reindeer Monologues," remembers fondly a time when he was young and it seemed like Christmas came once a year -- instead of seeming like it lasts a year.
So for those who suffer from the sounds of "Silent Night" or wonder why Wal-Mart puts ornaments on trees in August, this is the holiday play for you, the director says.
"Look, I love Christmas as far as the whole family thing is concerned, you know, people getting together, having (4-month-old daughter) Lottie around," Cruncleton said. "But the merchandising aspect gets a little old, and I think many people think that.
"Well, Santa, at this point in American culture, is a good representation of all that crap that you don't want to deal with. This piece sets Santa up and really demolishes that figure of Santa, so I think it's a good takedown of the more odious aspects of the Christmas season."
In the play, the media arrive at the North Pole looking for hot follow-up stories in the growing sex scandal, and plenty of tales are told by the other sleigh-team members. The theater piece proceeds with each of the reindeer having his or her moment alone onstage.
It deals with several issues of sexuality, and it presents various angles. There's the angry feminist who speaks out and wants to take Santa down.
There's the guilty female who understands what Vixen has gone through, but who doesn't want to lose her job.
There's Donner, the father of Rudolph, whose son has been sexually abused, but he doesn't want to step forward for personal reasons.
No character is safe in the environment of this broad satire, as a sad tale of corruption and perversion comes to light, implicating elves small and large.
"What you're left with is a really sordid image of North Pole politics and sexuality. Yes, it's pretty bizarre," Cruncleton said. "It deals with some pretty touchy issues, to be honest, but it's done in such a cartoonish way that I think it's palatable.
"It's not trying to take down Christmas as a concept. It's trying to knock at the most bloated symbol of Christmas. Which is why I can stomach it. No pun intended."
The cast includes the director as well as his wife, Sara Cruncleton, Lynn Kelsey, Valerie Stefan, Scott Heberling, Mike Cramton, Joseph Gomez and Ken Youngblood.
When - 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, also 8 p.m. Dec. 18-20
Where - Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. Fourth St.
Tickets - $10, may be purchased by calling 583-8487
Note - This play contains multiple sexual references; mature audiences only