San Antonio Express-News - December 2, 2003

'Monologues' an over-the-top delight

Special to the Express-News
Web Posted : 12/02/2003 12:00 AM
A beloved celebrity accused of sex crimes. Bitter accusations and vigorous defenses fly back and forth. The latest story on "Entertainment Tonight"? The newest headline in the scandal sheet? No, it's another merry holiday show among the Christmas one-acts at the Woodlawn Theater.

Normally, memories of rape and child abuse would be the subject of heavy drama, or at least vented on Montel. But when the characters are Santa's reindeer, you have the irreverent absurdities of "The Eight: The Reindeer Monologues."

You know nothing is sacred when the sexually adventurous Vixen, who claims that Santa indulged his whip in his employee relations, tosses off references to the alcoholic Mrs. Claus with lines like "It's hard not to hate a woman who likes taxi- dermy."

Sacred, no. Funny, yes. It's a warped humor, of course, but the result is a satire of how such stories play out in the media of a confessional society.

Every buck and doe has a different perspective. Dasher (Mark Hicks), long the lead reindeer, seems to have butted his antlers once too often into the sides of buildings, and he resents how Rudolph got all the glory for one lousy year. Prancer, or Hollywood (Travis McElroy), is upset that the brewing scandal could detract from his own career.

The outrageously flaming Cupid (Greg Price) has "issues," and believes the worst of everyone. Blitzen (Christy Huffman) fumes stridently about boycotts. Comet (Don Fox) defends his jolly employer ("They didn't make him a saint for his looks!") while Dancer (Jimmie E. Vohs in kosher New Yawk accent) only wants to know if she can get Hanukkahs off.

The most serious monologue belongs to Donner (Donnie Neubauer), the father of the mentally and physically challenged Rudolph. Then Vixen (Shelly Chance), about whom we've heard so much, arrives to defend herself.

The show's charm lies in its wicked one-liners, the sheer nonsense of its premise, and its tension between absurdity and gravity. Vohs and Chance are especially funny, but all of the actors are tight in their monologues and some are especially easy on the eyes.

Jeff Goode wrote the show and Jerry Pilato directs with simplicity and zip for Actors Theatre of San Antonio. There's a brief blurry video that could work better, but that's a minor distraction in an amusing 80 minutes.

"The Eight: The Reindeer Monologues" can be seen through Dec. 20 at the Woodlawn Theater, 1920 Fredericksburg Road. Tickets cost $8 to $13 for that show alone; ticket packages covering all four of the Woodlawn's holiday one-acts are $32. Call (210) 738-2872 for showtimes and reservations.