New Zealand Herald
December 20, 2009

Festive plays cause offence

A play in which Santa molests and rapes his reindeer has been postponed until after Christmas for fear of shocking festive-spirited families.

Reindeer Monologues was to be performed in Whangarei but was postponed when producers began to fear children would come to the adult-themed performance.

The show has all eight reindeer delivering monologues to the audience about their molestation at the hands of Santa.

It is the third piece of Christmas theatre to cause offence this month: a play in Auckland discusses an inappropriate relationship between Joseph and his donkey, while one in Wellington features simulated orgasm and swearing.

Pastor Ros Johnson, of the Maungatapere Community Church, said he was "very offended" by the Reindeer Monologues' portrayal of Santa, someone children trusted, as a sexual predator.

He is encouraging church-goers to boycott the play.

"Bestiality is abhorrent and totally out of character," he said. "The original Santa delivered presents to the poor. St Nick was a real person - he was a saint."

Producer Jarrod Martin said the content of the play would not have lent itself too well to the festive audience.

But he noted the play looked at contemporary attitudes towards rape and abuse of power, "and has Santa using his power and not being able to get away with it".

Plays such as this were good because they encouraged people to hold those in power accountable, Martin added.

Actor Kelly Johnson agreed that having the show before Christmas would have misled the audience. "People don't think of Santa as a molester. After the Christmas rush people are a bit more cynical about Christmas so hopefully they'll enjoy it more."

Performances of Reindeer Monologues will begin on March 23 next year.

Another play to cause controversy this month is Christ Almighty! at Auckland's Basement Theatre.

The production features a promiscuous cross-dressing Angel Gabriel, a horny shepherd, and a donkey that discusses its dubious relationship with another character, Joseph, the husband of Mary.

Meanwhile, a free opening night performance of An Adagio Christmas, by Wellington's Downstage Theatre for children in care, has offended foster parents with its swear words and sexual references.

By Alistair Gray