December 10, 2010
Interview: Philip Kingscott, producer, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues
By Liam Rudden
BAH humbug! If the obligatory festive screening of The Wizard Of Oz and thoughts of decking the halls leave you cold, then new Edinburgh theatre company Peapod Productions could well have the perfect antidote.
Next week, at The Store (formerly The GRV), there's a distinct lack of seasonal joy and goodwill aimed at adults who are sick of the usual December fare, it's called The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, a Christmas show with a difference.
"I loved this play from the moment I started reading it," says producer Philip Kingscott. "It was unlike any Christmas show I'd seen. I thought it would be great to do in Edinburgh at Christmas, as there are no other shows like it.
"Yes, there are lots of brilliant shows for families then, but there is very little to keep adult audiences amused. This fits the bill perfectly."
A dark comedy, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, by Jeff Goode, is definitely not for kids. Scandal erupts when one of Santa's reindeer accuses him of sexual harassment. As the massed media descend on the North Pole, the other members of the sleigh team demand to share their perspectives. With each deer's confession, the truth behind the shocking allegations becomes clearer and clearer... and murkier and murkier, and funnier and funnier.
"It turns out Santa is not the nice guy we always thought he was. He's a seriously bad guy, particularly to his reindeer," laughs Kingscott. "This goes unnoticed until one of his deer accuses him of sexual harassment, forcing his eight reindeer - Rudolf is in too much shock to talk - to give their side of the story. Some of them are there to defend the saint, others after revenge."
The eight reindeers involved are Dasher, Dancer, Cupid, Comet, Donner, Blitzen, Vixen, and Hollywood. In a series of monologues, each regails the audience with their version of events. But who is telling the truth?
Controversial, the piece has already proved a hit in the USA, despite its mix of serious contemporary issues with hilarious humour.
"When the first play was first performed, 16 years ago, there was a public obsession with celebrity. If anything, that has got worse. We're now living with the legacy of Big Brother. More people are becoming famous for doing nothing, which only encourages others to do the same.
"This is best illustrated by one of the reindeer I play, Hollywood. He only sees the scandal as a new way of finding funding for his next big movie venture," reflects Kingscott, who also plays Dasher and Donner.
"Dasher was the original leader of the pack, but is bitter that Rudolf has taken his place.
"Donner is Rudolf's dad. He has been with the pack for a long time and is getting a bit old and tired now. He wants the best for his son - life isn't easy when you're born with a flashing nose - and is delighted that Santa has found a place for him on the team, but thinks that the harassment allegations will be too much for Rudolf to take."
As for the controversial tag, he offers, "I'd say the controversial aspect of the piece is that it is Santa's reindeer, characters we've been brought up, telling us these stories. That's what is shocking and sad at times, but also incredibly funny."
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, The Store (formerly The GRV), Guthrie Street, Thursda-Sunday, 8pm, £10, available on door
Arts & Entertainment Editor