Northern Lights - November 19, 2004


You think you know them, but do you really know them at all?
by Anne-Margret Bellavoine, Northern Lights

November 22, 2004

Yes, we all know Rudolph, and even the names of his eight team mates - well, at least what the song has to say on the topic. Once upon a time, on a foggy Xmas night, or so it starts.

Whether you've been naughty or nice, you're in for great in-your-face seasonal merriment with perverse shock factor in Jeff Goode's wickedly funny play denouncing the Santa Claus scandal which threatens to topple the entire Christmas institution. Josh Costello directs this eight vignette window into scabrous North Pole realities.

We open with Dasher (Casey Long), the one and only team leader who lets out his unresolved anger issues at the 'fat boy' and Rudolph who stole the show from him, that one and only night. Dasher is a tough working deer who does not shun the task, under whatever conditions, unlike some of his team mates.

Cupid (Dimas Diaz) lives up to his name. He is the only openly 'out of the closet' one on the team. In his risqué monologue, he exposes the darkest secrets of the Claus household, from the harassment dished out by the Mrs. to her husband's exploitation of children, a time bomb waiting to explode.

Hollywood (Michael Irish) is a new name on the team with issues over his own claim to fame. He hates kids and other animals, but thinks Bambi would have rightly deserved an Oscar. Throughout his less than serene yoga routine, he delivers a diatribe against all the machinations of the Pole.

And no, they're not all male. Blitzen (Alex Bueno) is a tough and angry feminist who will not rest until she has righted the devastating wrongs of her boss. Kids stop believing the myth because of the repressed memories of an evil old man who has the power to know when they are sleeping and worm himself into their very homes as they lay in bed awaiting gifts. Injustice is rampant, with Santa not bothering to visit much of the third world.

Comet (Carter Mason) has a completely different spin from his team mates. He worships the good old Saint Nick who rescued him from a shelter for troubled deer and turned his life around, saving him from a certain fate as road kill and mounted wall trophy. For him, Rudolph is a handi¬capped fawn who got given the chance of his life.

Dancer (Sarah Moreau) is a vapid blonde who gave up her dancing career when reindoes and stags had to hang up their satin slippers and tutus. She prefers baking cookies to hard work, bemoaning the working conditions of the one night she actually has to put in, concerned about additional benefits such as sick leave and vacations. She has heard the rumors, but would rather not rock the boat in spite of the obvious problems.

Donner (Richard Comeau) is Rudolph's father and wracked with guilt over selling his son's soul for material comfort. He is like all parents, concerned about his only child's limited future with its crushed dreams. When Kris Kringle came sniffing around and selected his son, his resolve to say no eventually wavered.

Last but not least is Vixen (Heather Howe). She is at the center of this triangle of scandal. Did Santa rape her, or was she responsible for having seduced him? Who is lying and who is telling the truth when they present their versions of the same event, even though clearly neither Mr. or Mrs. Claus are saints. And who will believe the only witness, poor Rudolph in his catatonic state?

What is at stake is Christmas for children the world over. In this brilliant allegorical satire, Goode pokes jolly fun at all the foibles of modern society and troubled families. This unpolitically correct tale hits its mark over and over in the outrageous monologues. We never see Santa, Mrs. Claus or Rudolph, but the eight yarns give us a composite picture of what may have happened. We're the judge and jury, and the fate of Christmas hangs in the balance.

The eight characters deliver wonderful characterizations of their deer personalities, hybrid of animal and human.

If too many Nutcrackers and Christmas Carols have given you holiday indigestion, this non traditional and biting holiday offering is sure to be a potent antidote to treackle sweet sugar plum fairies and candy cane overdoses. Strong language and adult situations make this a no-children show.