"Ho, ho, ho. I deny all allegations of sexual misconduct. I'm just a jolly fat man delivering presents to good boys and girls. I'm no pervert." -Santa
Or is he?
Just image the following: Santa, a jolly fat pervert feeling up his reindeer. Mrs. Clause, an alcoholic. Elves without genitalia. Rudolph in a catatonic stupor.
You are not having a bad acid trip, but seeing Know Theatre Tribe's holiday offering -The Eight: Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode. Part "E! True Hollywood Story," part "Jerry Springer," Goode recounts alleged sexual misconduct between Santa and one of his reindeer. Told through a series of monologues reminiscent of The Vagina Monologues, each reindeer gets to tell his or her own take on the Saint Nick sex scandal.
Director Jason Bruffy does a fine job working with the limited space in Arnold's Bar and Grill, utilizing the aisle toward the stage and the tree growing in the center of the room with great effect.
The highlight of Bruffy's direction comes with the reindeer themselves. Each reindeer is a clearly defined character with a distinct identity. Openly gay Cupid (Brandon Brady) is overtly flamboyant, not above giving his fellow reindeer dirty looks during the other monologues. Former ballet instructor Dancer (Melissa Urriquia) is a ditz and Blitzen (Catherine Elizabeth Cook), outraged by what has happened, exudes righteous indignation against Santa and Christmas. Hollywood, a.k.a. Prancer (Matthew A. Pyle) acts like the spoiled movie brat waiting for his big break.
These reindeer stand in the background against the pro-Santa reindeer, Dasher and Comet, (Reginald Willis and Elizabeth Harris), who dismiss the allegations of sexual impropriety. Willis, who plays Dasher, plays the gung-ho leader of the Eight with a great deal of charisma and energy. The part suits his talents and he shines in the role. Similar praise goes to Elizabeth Harris. Her portrayal of Comet was both touching and funny. She plays the butch reindeer as a wounded innocent with great effect.
But the poster child for wounded innocence in this play is Donner (Darryl Hilton). Drowning his sorrows over a glass of whiskey, Hilton portrays the father of Rudolph with great feeling. By the end of his monologue, I actually felt sorry for him. I also felt sorry for Vixen (Jennifer Dalton), the reindeer allegedly sexually assaulted by Saint Nick. Acting the part of the siren on the surface, Dalton was able to let down her guard and reveal her pain from this incident. Vixen had the potential for being the flattest character and Dalton makes her into a fascinating creature.
My only complaint about the production was the high instance of cigarette smoking that the members of the Eight did throughout the play. In a confined space like Arnold's, the smoke became uncomfortable at times.
So if you like seeing reindeer in leather or want to hear about holly jolly sex crimes, this is the play for you. It is for mature audiences, so leave the kiddies at home in bed with sugar plums dancing through their wee little heads.
The Know Theatre Tribe's The Eight: Reindeer Monologues runs at 8 p.m. Sunday -Tuesdays at Arnold's Bar and Grill, 210 E. 8th Street, until December 23. Call (513) 300-KNOW for tickets or check their Web site www.knowtheatre.com for more information.