The Register-Pajaronian - December 19, 2003

Eight bawdy reindeers strut their stuff in Pisces Moon's 'The Eight: Reindeer Monologues'
Dec 19 2003 12:00AM  By



Jeff Goode's iconoclastic "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" takes a pot shot, or make that eight pot shots, at one of the biggest icons of all time, Santa Claus. We've all heard of rogue Santas - on film or TV, even in malls - but can any of them match the depravity of the jolly old elf as seen through the eyes of his eighth reindeer?

The sexy Vixen (Becky Armor) has accused Santa of the worst kind of sexual harassment. Of course, he denies the charge and the other seven reindeer are forced to take sides. Each tells his/her side of the story in a darkly comic monologue.

This is not your Norman Rockwell view of Christmas. We see the dark side of the North Pole enterprises, with elf and reindeer abuse, molestation, pedophilia and, to top it all, hazardous working conditions. The shrewish Mrs. Claus is often drunk, and abuses everyone in her purview, including Santa himself. We also find out the real truth about Rudolph. Then, as if Santa hasn't got enough trouble, some of the reindeer are planning to strike on Christmas Eve.

The No. 1 reindeer, blue-collar Dasher (Daniel David Doane) sets the scene. As expected, he puts a macho spin on the events. Cupid (Christopher Sugarman), the openly homosexual reindeer, gives quite a different perspective. Cupid has some of the funniest and most sexually suggestive lines in the play, and that's saying something.

The hedonistic Prancer, a.k.a. Hollywood (Nathaniel Meek), is still smarting about Rudolph, who upstaged him in his Hollywood debut. The feminist Blitzen (Manirose Raley) is what you might call your "Gothic" reindeer. She sides with Vixen and refers to Santa as "the jolly fat pervert."

Linda Turner is Comet, the deer whom Santa rescued from a life of crime and drugs. She is the only advocate for the old rogue. Dancer (Terri Steinmann), a ditzy blonde former dancer (what else?) refuses to go on strike, claiming that she really needs the job.

Then Rudolph's father, Donner (Randy Birch), steps forward and tells us the sad story of his badly disabled son, who in his youth was molested by Santa and is even now languishing in a padded cell. Finally, Vixen, the source of this latest scandal, tells her side of the story. She is clearly a promiscuous reindeer, but you can't blame the victim. She knows her days as one of Santa's reindeer are numbered and plans to retire to Florida.

Co-directors Terri Steinmann and Christopher Sugarman have assembled a stellar cast for this extravaganza, all of whom give exceptional performances in nicely contrasting roles. I was especially impressed with Turner's comedic skills in the role of Comet and Sugarman's really naughty Cupid.

At the end of the evening, we're not really sure whether Santa is a depraved monster, or merely the kindly old "touchy-feely" philanthropist we always thought he was. But it's always the same with this kind of accusation and Santa does not have a chance to give his rebuttal.

Goode has found a very clever way to deal with what is at times outrageous material. He raises real and controversial issues and presents them in a palatable and most humorous way through the mouths of eight quirky reindeer. While the play may not be everyone's cup of tea, it is very entertaining and thought provoking, and it does make a complete change from more traditional Christmas fare.


"The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" runs Thursday through Sunday until December 21st, at the Broadway Playhouse in the Santa Cruz Art League. For curtain times and for tickets, call (831) 429-2339. Pisces Moon recommends this production for adults only.

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